Last weekend we went to Texas Unites for Animals in Austin. We both found it informative and interesting.
I began it with a debacle, as Jane hadn't registered me. Of course, she said she told me that (I'm sure that is true!), but still, I had to stand there and listen to jokes pertaining to why she really didn't want me there, while I begged myself in:).
It was an informative and enjoyable weekend. Always nice to meet other Shelter people. No matter their difference of policies or intake, we're all in the same place. Trying to save animals.
Besides the knowledge, the one thing that really sticks in my mind and frankly, inspires me was the fact there were over 300 shelter people and some rescues, fosters and never did I once here the phrase "No-Kill" or Nathan Winograd's name.
That doesn't mean for a moment, no-kill doesn't appeal to me. Isn't a dream we all have? It just means the focus was not on "numbers", but doing the right thing, providing the best care for all the animals that become, not through their choice, our responsibility.In my heart, I feel that is most important. Adopting out healthy animals. Hope the programs we've implemented will save more, still not sacrificing the health and quality of life of our "guests" by over crowding. The professionals at the conference claimed that a "doom shelter".
It is a daunting, thankless task. Heartbreaking, never ending, physically and mentally exhausting job.. Filled with boundless personalities and unmeasureable passion.
The disdain people show towards their "pets" never stops. The worse story or abused animal you've ever seen, can be topped by worse the next day. That is the only given. As sure as the sun sets and rises...a bigger, crueler, uncaring, uneducated, total moron will show up the next day. It never ends. I don't think it will in my lifetime. I still will strive in my lifetime to save the ones I can. In fact, if I only save one a day, I've done more than many people. Of course, since I function under wonderful management, a great staff and good volunteers, that goal is reachable. In fact, together, I do think we will do better and better, every day.
My point being. No one is right with their animals saving ideas. Just as, no one is really wrong.
We alll have ideas. We all want to save them all. We can't. It's impossible. Totally impossible when we are talking about a Shelter that in over 20,000 animals a year!!!! Think about that. There are towns near to us smaller than that!
I'm proud of the fact that we do save so many animals that statictics would call "unadoptable". Maybe that isn't a good thing, who knows? I just know I'm proud of it. I'm proud that "pets" who have been abandonded and given up as too much trouble, too old, too sick, have found wonderful, loving homes just because of US.
No matter what surveys say how many people per capita want to adopt a pet...no matter if they all did want abandonded animals..do they want old ones? Pit mixes? Lab mixes? BIg Dogs? Old cats? Sickly kittens? A dog that may have worms? Cat or dog with an URI? I don't think so,. Maybe I'm wrong. I surely could be, wouldn't be the first time.
With that in mind...we just keep on doing what we're doing. Trying to save them one at a time. More fosters. More education. TRYING for retention (works maybe 1% of the time), more rescues and transfers. And, or course, embracing our volunteers. They are a vital component to saving lives.
I intended to write about new protocols we learned there, but, as usual, I've digressed:). Feel assured, they are presented to Care Corp, who are behind us, open and desiring of any protocol to help save our animals.
There are changes every day and I hope they are noticed. I hope you all want to help us. We have the same goal. Saving Lives. Remember that inane phrase: We may not agree, but we can agree to disagree.
Please stop the rumors and negativity. I attended a two hour class on that; how important it is to all be together. They even spent an hour discussing how to "fire" volunteers! I was more appalled than interested :).
I think I would just have one wish. Try to put yourselves in our place.We brainstorm, we educate ourselves, we give up a personal life, we listen, we negogiate, we really DO care what you all think! Mostly, we care about the 800 animals in our care daily. Still... someone wants to bring us down. Question us, disdain us. It's very frustrating and unproductive.
The Holifields, myself and Jane have never indicated our minds or doors are shut. Please come talk to us with your concerns. We learn every single day. Your thoughts inspire us. Your negativaty just slows down our task of saving our animals.
If you've read this far, just remember this: I may be a "nutty animal person", I'll admit to that. I've never claimed to be a writer :).
My last blog post was about falling in love with your foster and how hard it was to give them up. Well what if the opposite happens, what if you really can’t stand your foster. If it has not happened to you, just wait, it will. Most of the time it comes when you take a foster someone else wants saved. You really have to pick your own; you are more likely to tolerate their short comings because you were drawn to them in the first place. I have noticed when I let someone else pick my foster, (I saved one someone else wanted saved) I am less patient and more frustrated; I don’t think this is a coincidence. Whatever draws us to an animal is also what keeps us sane while fostering it.
So you have this foster that you have completely not bonded with, they wear on your last nerve and you are ready to pull your hair out, what do you do?
Do you adopt him to the first person who shows the slightest interest to free yourself from this horrible creature that has invaded your house? Do you run back to the shelter and cry uncle? Nope you took him so you are stuck with him. My best advice is really taking a very big deep breath. The more you dislike your foster the more you project that. Find his positive qualities and focus on those. Work on training for those issues that are driving you up a wall and realize that the person who does adopt him will most likely find some of the things that drive you batty endearing because they love the little monster.
Make sure you don’t lie when adopting him out, like is he house broken and you say yes, and in fact he is not 100%. Be creative in your answer, we are working on that but he is still a puppy and will have accidents but positive reinforcement is working. Not a lie… Does he chew, correct answer, he is a puppy all puppies will chew. We are careful to pick things up we don’t want chewed on and give him plenty of access to appropriate things to chew on and we crate him when we are not home. These types of answers set an expectation that yes he will have accidents, he will chew, but they are things that can be worked on and managed. If you said he is house broken and does not chew then they are going to be ticked when he pees on the good rug and chews up their shoes.
Most importantly be honest with yourself and see if he is doing anything that fosters in the past did not do and if the answer is not really, realize it is just a personality issue and that does happen. Work harder on the training so this dog becomes more adoptable and make sure he has plenty of access via online and offsite events for someone to love him especially since you don’t.
I will add though if the foster issue is not petty little things that wear on your nerves and more serious issues such as aggression, dominance etc., then those are completely different issues and need to be addressed differently and depending on each foster’s circumstance on how. No one should be faulted for taking back a foster that is bad fit in their pack or in their home especially when children are around. Never risked the safety of your personal pets or family for a foster, unfortunately until things change in Montgomery Co there is an endless supply of animals who would be grateful for the warm bed and home to sleep in.
In closing, anyone want a wire haired dachshund, I swear he is the perfect dog! He even poops 24K gold bars… Anyone???? I really don’t like this dog!
As the Shelter turns over a new page...Priviatizing as opposed to County Run (more on this later) it makes me think of things that really matter.
The most important, above all things.....
How the Shelter, i.e. the cats and dogs would suffer without our volunteers. They are the "HEART" of MCAS. No doubt about it.
Made me think how I started volunteering there and I'm wondering and hoping if you all would share how you "got hooked".
Many of you I do know the stories..in fact, many of you started when I did! I never get tired of hearing them. I think you all have a unique story to share.
A story that in the long run, has saved many animalsl lives. Even if only one animal...it counts. In fact, it counts alot. So, please...tell us how you became involved with MCAS.
What you'll really be telling is how (and why) you've helped us save so many lives. Many of them, lives no one else would have thought "saveable".
I know they are worthy, caring, unique stories that we would all love to hear.
Also, and this is personal to me, how do you get a good friend "hooked?"
Please, share. I know we would all love to hear your stories.
(thank you, NR).
Cory showing off the new Care Corp. shirts.
March 1st marks the long-awaited transition from the Montgomery County Animal Shelter, county-run facility, to Montgomery County Animal Shelter run by Care Corporation.
We've been waiting and working for this for a long time. And it is going to be good. Let me tell you why...
Under county governance, the shelter operated under certain restrictions that just didn't fit well with what an animal shelter needs. We couldn't have part time employees. Hiring and firing have been bureaucratically time-consuming and difficult. Payments made to the shelter on credit cards were bogging down in the county financial system that had the money shifting from holding account to holding account before it eventually got back to the shelter.
It was inefficient, and in a shelter environment, the institutionalized inefficiency of a large bureaucracy literally means lives lost.
Care Corporation, as a private business, can hire who they want. They can have part time employees. They can manage their funds much more effectively, with direct control of funds going straight into their hands without wandering through holding accounts for weeks and months. They can make changes to policy, procedure, or even staffing without wading through the morass of county government.
In the new era of privatization, Care Corporation can focus intently on what's best for the animals.
- Improved customer service, which will lead to more adoptions.
- Immediate receipt of funds paid by adopters, which makes the budget work like it should.
- Better working conditions for the employees, which will lead to a more productive working environment.
- A steady program of maintenance and improvement to the facilities and thus the lives of the animals; a cleaner, brighter, more comfortable environment will be more attractive to volunteers and adopters, and healthier for the animals.
- Plans to improve kennel ventilation over time, as the current units wear out, which will reduce the kennel smell and help prevent spread of germs.
- Openness to suggestions and feedback, and the freedom to act upon same.
I have tremendous confidence in Tim and Amy Holifield, the principals of Care Corporation, and in Minda Harris, the shelter director. Every single day, they put their time, money, and energy where their hearts are: with the animals. I have seen tremendous improvement over the course of their tenure on the county payroll, even within the tight constraints of the county bureaucracy.
I can't wait to see what they can do through a private entity with more freedom and flexibility to focus on the needs of the animals instead of trying to fit the animals into the artificial structure of the county bureaucracy.
Want to see for yourself? Please, go visit the new and improved Montgomery County Animal Shelter. And then help us to help the animals by adopting, fostering, volunteering, or donating to the Montgomery County Animal Society (a nonprofit dedicated solely to the enhancement of the lives and adoptability of the animals in this shelter.).
Care Corporation has the opportunity to do something great here. Come be a part of it.