Animal Welfare Professionals

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  • 1.  Webcast: The Power of Yes: Three things to do today to open the kennel doors and send animals home - 11/10/22

    Posted 10-12-2022 11:42 AM
    Have you tried everything you can think of to connect with your community? Have you reduced barriers to fostering and adoption and still animals are sitting? In this 60-minute webinar, we'll explore what might be keeping people who want to foster or adopt from coming to your shelter, and we'll share three of the most impactful and untapped practices you can use to encourage engagement across your community. 

    This webcast was recorded on Thursday, November 10, 2022  (60 minutes)


    After viewing, join us right here on Maddie's Pet Forum to continue the discussion and exchange ideas.

    This webinar has been pre-approved for 1.0 Certified Animal Welfare Administrator continuing education credits by The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement and by the National Animal Care & Control Association.

    Presenter @Allison Cardona  California for All Animals State Director @UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program

    Allison Cardona and black and grey doggo

    Before joining the Koret Shelter Medicine Program as California State Director, Allison worked as deputy director for the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care & Control where she oversaw two full-service animal care centers, a communications center, public relations, adoption partners, behavior and enrichment, and volunteer programs. She also served as liaison to the County's Homeless Initiative ensuring that people experiencing homelessness have options and resources for their pets. Before that, Allison spent 14 years as a senior program director at the ASPCA in a variety of departments. She earned her bachelor's degree in Public Affairs from Empire State College and is a graduate of USC Price School of Public Policy Executive Leadership Development Program and Southern Utah University Certificate in Executive Animal Services. The proud daughter of Colombian immigrants, Allison is deeply committed to racial justice and equity work.

    The Power of Yes graphic photo or a mom and her little girl on a couch cuddling  with a cat


    alison gibson
    Senior Media Specialist
    Maddie's Fund

  • 2.  RE: Webcast: The Power of Yes: Three things to do today to open the kennel doors and send animals home - 11/10/22

    Posted 11-17-2022 04:11 PM
    A big thank you to everyone who joined this webinar live and for your very thoughtful questions. We didn't get a chance to answer all the questions live, so here are complete answers and additional resources:

    Q: How to persuade our municipal shelter to relate better to our Latino population?  Southern Arizona is a richly bilingual community.  But when I look at the shelter-given names on the nightly adoption report, I don't see that well represented.  

    • A: It sounds like you want to get to know your community and partner with them. Have you talked with other staff members about their experience helping adopters? What is the demographic make up of your staff and volunteers? How does that compare to the demographics of your communities? That could be a place to start, with collecting some data about the opportunities that exist to partner with and place animals in all homes in the community. 

    Q: Shelter leadership feels that offsite adoption events are not very productive.  But so much of the community doesn't even know the shelter exists (it's not located centrally). How to show that even for the PR value, that offsite events are worthwhile?

    • A: It may help to explain to your shelter leadership that building trust takes time and can't be quantified with direct adoption numbers. Bringing adoption events to communities makes adoptions more accessible for folks who don't have vehicles or may have mobility issues. It also shows that your organization wants to place animals in homes across the community. And if the goal is to increase partnership and relationships then you can't measure by adoptions in the short term. At the same time, what is the measure for an event being productive? Have you reviewed your adoption policies and practices? What barriers may be in place that are making the events less welcoming or appealing to potential adopters? Keep advocating for inclusion, partnership and belonging! Additionally, our Marketing and Communications team has these great suggestions:
      *Move the goal from strictly adoptions to engagement and even (if it helps make the case) donor relations. 
      *Use a counter to track every single person that stops by. 
      *Bring a laptop and for every "I wish I could take them all home" encourage fostering and volunteering. Sign them up on the spot. 
      *Grow your contact database! Fishbowl for business cards.  (Prizes can be cheap! Ex: Let the winner choose between their pet's picture in a publication, naming a litter of kittens, or a "date night at the shelter.") 
      *Capture "popup" when you enter their contact info so you can later lookup how many people went on to adopt, volunteer or donate.
      *If you're doing the popup in a business district on a weekday, consider "selling" boardroom visits with baskets of puppies or kittens. I offered a free visit with every 5k donation from a business and it spun off into an entire "Corporate Kittens and Professional Pups" program that development gobbled up. 
      *Photo moment with a hashtag! At the very least, the social media love is always worth it. 
      *Take the hassle out of schlepping animals and items by looking for a semi-permanent arrangement with a landlord. They don't like empty spaces (especially this time of year) and they do love foot traffic and tax write offs. Offer to host a popup and keep the place warm until they find a new tenant.

    Q: Rescues IMHO tend to have strict adoption policies because many dogs have been abandoned, abused and neglected, and the rescue does not want the animal to suffer this again.  If home inspections, interview, vet reference etc is not the way, what approach do you suggest.

    • A: We are suggesting creating an open and welcoming relationship with potential adopters so you can be a resource to them. The reality is that people will get pets and if we create welcoming, supportive environments, they will get them from us! I would also say to take a look at the ideas behind dogs being abandoned, abused and neglected. How much is that is about lack of access to veterinary care, financial hardship and entrenched systems of marginalizing communities of color. And are we creating more suffering by keeping pets in shelters and not letting them go into homes or not reuniting them with their original homes?

    Q:  Very important to be able to walk your talk when it comes to communicating in languages other than English. Our shelter did a series of promotions in Spanish on Facebook, and failed to have Spanish-speaking staff or volunteers present during all open hours to accommodate the people we tried to attract.

    • A: Great point to bring up! Thinking through the whole plan is essential and thanks for sharing this lesson learned.

    Q: How do you guys recommend offering more languages to your followers if you don't have the staff to translate things?

    • A: How about reaching out to volunteers? Or specifically recruiting for multilingual volunteers. There may be folks in the community who want to help and can offer their expertise. Or you can look for a professional translation agency but make you get references and reviews to ensure they are doing a culturally competent job.

    Q: How do we address long-entrenched leadership that has a clear bias against BIPOC in their community? That urges transfer out vs local adoption?

    • A: Thank you for this question. It's important to bring this to light and discuss as a reality in animal welfare. I appreciate that you are naming this and seeking help to change this. You could share this webinar with them and ask to discuss as a team. You could also suggest the Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity Racial Equity Diversity and Inclusion training (REDI)  and ask if they and other staff members could take the training. Here is an additional list of resources you could share and cite. Ultimately, your shelter is missing out on connecting with communities who have a deep love for pets.

    Q:  How do you convince shelters who are STILL resticting (sic) adoption hours and public viewing based on Covid  reasoning to open the shelter to members of the public? And those shelters alleging appointment only adoptions reduces dog bites to members of the public?

    • A: It's hard to comment on individual shelters as they may have reasons for their hours beyond COVID restrictions. We do recommend having accessible adoption hours so the community can meet pets and suggest shelters work with their community to understand the needs. A compromise could be to suggest a hybrid approach, offering walk in hours part of the day and appointments the rest of the day. There are benefits to adoption by appointment, but they don't work for all scenarios.

    Q: How do you navigate community advocates pushing for things that are contrary to your organizational goals? For example, community groups that are against free-roaming cats and want the shelter to take them all in or pick them all up? Realizing that - the voices that get amplified in the system as it currently stand now, and the loudest folks (ex: who may be able to get access to your board/leadership to implement change) are usually those coming from places of privledge (sic)?

    • A: There are several resources that may be helpful to explain about healthy, adult cats living in the community. This webinar! 
       may be helpful for you and to share with advocates. And it can help frame a discussion about access to care and why keeping pets in their homes and communities is better for everyone. I really appreciate that you are naming that not considering human factors is detrimental to the work that is being done. And it sounds like you recognize that the actions may be further marginalizing communities. Keep sharing information and the reasons your organization is working to keep pets in homes and make pet adoption accessible. You can also highlight the ways in which your goals are aligned. If advocates want there to be fewer cats on the street, RTH/TNR is the only proven strategy to achieve that shared goal. If they are concerned about feline wellbeing, highlight the ways in which cats are thriving in their communities vs. cat euthanasia from years past when we practiced catch and kill. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that RTH is the best way to both improve feline welfare AND reduce free-roaming cat populations. The Million Cat Challenge is one giant case study!

    Q: Is there any type of implicit bias training that is geared towards animal welfare client facing staff?

    Q: In Grand Rapids there's an 8% population of Spanish speakers, (the largest minority group here that speaks a different language). With a limited number of staff members, so what percentage of social media content and adoption materials should we try to translate and offer in Spanish?

    • A: So great that you want to connect with your Spanish speaking communities. You may start with translating adoption event promos to Spanish or flyers with available services. You could also reach out to community-based organizations that are working in the community and have Spanish speakers, to give them information on your shelter. Do you have staff members who speak Spanish? If you ask them to help with translation make sure to compensate them for their time (above their current duties). Love that you are taking this step!

    Q:  I know we've been speaking primarily about adoptions, but I want to make my organization's foster program much more inclusive. We don't have enough multi-lingual support among our staff and volunteers, though. We have the ability to make our foster application in multiple languages, but we also need all foster support services to be multi-lingual: training, medical needs, etc etc. I'm afraid to have our application in Spanish without being able to give them detailed training and emergency medical support (I work with neonatal kittens). Any advice?

    • A: The fact that you are thinking of ways to be more inclusive is a great first step! You may want to start somewhere that is within your organization's capacity. Having some options for Spanish-speaking folks to get involved in your organization's mission is better than having no options. This gives you the opportunity to learn, adjust and grow. Some examples of ways to reach Spanish-speaking community members: Create flyers in Spanish to place across your community, go to your local high schools to speak with students about your program, solicit volunteers from local community centers or colleges who can act as a liaison if they can't volunteer or foster, set goals for milestones (e.g., perhaps you want to recruit 10 Spanish-speaking volunteers who can then become mentors), and seek out information that already exists in Spanish. Here is a resource about neonatal kittens that already exists in Spanish. Ideally, your colleagues and volunteers are representative of your community, so if there is an opportunity to grow your team(s), perhaps hiring someone who is bilingual will also help you meet these goals.

    Allison Cardona
    UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program

  • 3.  RE: Webcast: The Power of Yes: Three things to do today to open the kennel doors and send animals home - 11/10/22

    Posted 11-18-2022 12:16 PM
    These are such great questions! I wanted to add an updated the link to the Million Cat Challenge webinar, as it does include the exclamation point in the link:!

    Elise Pollard
    Koret Shelter Medicine Program

  • 4.  RE: Webcast: The Power of Yes: Three things to do today to open the kennel doors and send animals home - 11/10/22

    Posted 11-18-2022 12:57 PM

    Thanks, @Elise Winn!

    Reminder if folks want to earn  continuing education credit for CAWA and/or NACA, you can watch the webcast and download your certificate on Maddies University here.

    alison gibson
    Senior Media Specialist
    Maddie's Fund

  • 5.  RE: Webcast: The Power of Yes: Three things to do today to open the kennel doors and send animals home - 11/10/22

    Posted 11-20-2022 10:40 AM
    Has anyone used a translation service? Which ones and what was the experience like?
    Thank you!

    Xena Rivers
    Austin Pets Alive!

  • 6.  RE: Webcast: The Power of Yes: Three things to do today to open the kennel doors and send animals home - 11/10/22

    Posted 11-22-2022 08:59 AM
    We have not yet translated our Adoption documents yet but it's on our list of priorities...  earlier this year we got all our Foster documents into Spanish - I used Google Translate for a first pass and then our Spanish-speaking receptionist went through editing in detail. She said the Google translate version was actually pretty good, but with some of the medical terms and detailed instructions in particular there were things lost in translation.

    Jo McDermott
    Nine Lives Foundation

  • 7.  RE: Webcast: The Power of Yes: Three things to do today to open the kennel doors and send animals home - 11/10/22

    Posted 11-23-2022 09:05 AM
    Hi Jo! 

    Just wanted to suggest a different translator that is way better than Google and its also free:

    Hope it helps! :)

    Yael Oppenheimer
    Regional Strategist
    Best Friends Animal Society

  • 8.  RE: Webcast: The Power of Yes: Three things to do today to open the kennel doors and send animals home - 11/10/22

    Posted 11-23-2022 09:10 AM
    Thanks so much Yael - I appreciate it! We will give Deepl a go!

    Jo McDermott
    Nine Lives Foundation

  • 9.  RE: Webcast: The Power of Yes: Three things to do today to open the kennel doors and send animals home - 11/10/22

    Posted 11-23-2022 09:25 AM
    Thank you, Jo! Starting with Google Translate is a great idea - I'd love to make this as easy as possible for our Spanish-speaking staff & volunteers. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Xena Rivers
    Austin Pets Alive!