Getting sick is part of our everyday lives, but in most cases, individuals think about colds, flu, and other illnesses passed from one human to another. There is another category of illnesses that impact humans known as zoonotic diseases (zoonoses) that are passed from animals to humans. Working or volunteering at an animal shelter increases the chance of contracting one of these illnesses. To best protect yourself, your volunteer team, and visitors to the animal shelter, it is essential that you understand zoonotic diseases as well as educate volunteers.

How Zoonotic Diseases Spread

According to the Water Quality & Health Council, 60% of infectious diseases are spread by animals to humans. Zoonotic diseases can be spread through bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites depending on the disease. The most common ways these diseases find their way to humans include:

  • Animal bites or scratches that break the skin.
  • Insect bites from mosquitoes, ticks, or fleas.
  • Coming in direct contact with animal fluids including urine, feces, and saliva.
  • Consuming water or food that was contaminated by the animal.
  • Coming in contact with something that was contaminated by the animal.
  • Skin to skin contact with the animal.
  • Inhaling germs or particles in the air.

Types of Zoonotic Diseases

There are currently 150 known zoonotic diseases with some being more prevalent than others. Take a look at these common types that your animal shelter should be conscious of:

  1. Plague: The plague is a bacteria that is spread by small animals including rodents and cats. The bubonic plague is spread by fleas and contracted by humans when bit.
  2. Leptospirosis: This is a bacterial infection spread by dogs in their urine.
  3. Cat Scratch Disease: The cat scratch disease is a bacteria spread by felines when they bite or scratch breaking open skin. In some cases, fleas have also been known to spread the bacteria.
  4. Lyme Disease: Lyme disease is a popular zoonotic disease that is spread by infected ticks attaching themselves to animals or humans.
  5. Tick Paralysis: Some ticks produce a neurotoxin that when transmitted to humans or animals can cause paralysis starting in the legs before spreading to other limbs.
  6. Rabies: Another well-known disease that can be deadly to humans which is why many areas require rabies vaccines for animals to prevent the spread.
  7. Toxoplasmosis: This disease is spread through cat feces and urine. It is especially harmful to unborn babies and linked to birth defects.

 

Preventing the Spread of Zoonotic Diseases

In an animal shelter setting, there are steps your volunteers can take to minimize the spread of zoonotic diseases including:

  • Wear gloves when cleaning litter boxes or removing feces from the yard.
  • Thoroughly wash hands after all contact with animals.
  • Use insect repellent before spending time outdoors with the animals.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants while volunteering to minimize scratches.
  • Make sure all animals are seen by a vet upon intake.

If you haven’t trained your volunteer team on zoonotic diseases recently, now is a great time to schedule a training session.

Running an animal shelter or rescue requires a big heart. One of the best parts of volunteering for an animal welfare organization is matching previously neglected animals with families that are ready to love and care for them. In some ways this is also the most challenging part of being a volunteer since it is common to develop a bond with the dogs, cats, and other animals. A lot more goes into managing an animal shelter. Directors in charge must also make sure the organization is adequately insured.

Buying the right insurance begins with finding an agent that understands the unique activities involved in shelter life. And it requires understanding what to look for on an insurance policy in regards to coverage and exclusions. Shelters often have insurance in place such as general liability, volunteer, and commercial property if they have a building, but the policies may have exclusions that place the organization at risk.

  1. Breed Exclusions

If you own a home and have a dog, you may remember having to answer what breed the dog is or even be aware that it is difficult to find homeowners insurance when you have certain breeds. Some insurance companies insure animal shelters and rescues but exclude what they refer to as high-risk breeds. Breeds most commonly excluded include Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, Rottweilers, German Shepards, Chow Chows, Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, Mastiffs, and Siberian Huskies. Breed exclusions may not be a concern if you only care for cats or a specific breed not on this list, but if you are an all-breed rescue and accept any of these into your care, the insurance could be void as a result.

  1. Are Animals Covered?

Unfortunately, another common exclusion is animals altogether which means that any claim resulting from one of the animals will not be covered. This includes bites, if they cause another injury, or even if they get loose and cause an automobile accident. Since animals are the center of your mission, this is an exclusion you should ask about immediately.

  1. Dog Bites

Dog bites are often an exclusion because of the high cost of medical care and settling these types of claims. Since most nonprofit animal shelters don’t have the funds to afford these types of expenses, making sure your insurance includes protection against dog bites is essential.

  1. Designated Locations

Some insurance policies limit coverage to specific locations listed in the policy. This limitation should be a concern for organizations that attend adoption events or utilize foster homes for care. If an incident were to occur at any location other than the listed one, the insurance policy would not pay the costs associated with it.

Animal shelters are a vital part of their local communities. To provide care in the long-term, it is essential that you have the right insurance in place. If you find any of the exclusions mentioned above on your insurance policy, it may be time to contact an agency that specializes in animal welfare organizations for guidance.

Animal Welfare Organizations provide vital services to communities across the country, striving every day to make the world a better place for neglected animals. A mission they could not fulfill without the help and support of a dedicated team of volunteers and financial supporters. Even though they operate on a much smaller budget than larger corporations, their access to confidential information makes animal welfare organizations a prime target for cyber-criminals.

While it is natural to think that small animal welfare organizations would be at the bottom of these criminals’ target list, limited resources makes them more susceptible to an attack. One of the common cyber criminal activities that spiked in 2018 before beginning a slow decline is ransomware attacks.

What is a Ransomware Attack?

Ransomware is a type of malware that hackers use to infect a device or website and hold the information hostage. To regain access to their information, the victim has to pay a ransom for the cyber-criminal to release it.

The most common way for a cyber-criminal to infect computers with ransomware is by using a phishing scam. Phishing scams occur when these hackers send emails to volunteers or employees at the animal welfare organization. Unlike regular spam, these emails are disguised as being sent from somebody the individual should trust. The emails include attachments, and when the volunteer or employee opens the attachment, it releases the malware onto their computer.

How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

Even though cyber-criminals seem to get smarter every day, there are some steps animal welfare organizations can take to minimize the threat of an attack.

  1. Always install updates on computers and software to prevent any “holes” in the program or device. Failing to install updates promptly makes it easier for cyber-criminals to hack into the system.
  2. Require any downloads or program installs to be approved by a designated IT volunteer or resource. This assures the wrong types of software (i.e., malware) are not downloaded by mistake.
  3. Install antivirus software that includes malware protection on all devices.
  4. Train volunteers on how to identify phishing scams.
  5. Create an acceptable use policy for the organization’s devices and require all volunteers to sign and acknowledge the expectations.
  6. Backup programs, files, and systems at least weekly to not lose any crucial information.

The best way to protect an animal welfare organization from the aftermath of a ransomware attack is to buy the right insurance now. Animal Welfare Organization Insurance Program can help you find cyber liability insurance to protect your financial well-being.

Figuring out how to fundraise can be a stressful process. Should we do a 5k? Should we do a car wash? Do we just ask for donations on our website or Facebook page? There are so many ways that you can reach out to the community, but you need to find what is right for your organization. Sometimes with all the options it might seem like your head is spinning, but Amazon has simplified it all.

In this day and age, anything you can imagine can be done or sold on the internet. So why shouldn’t we all take advantage of that? The internet is used to buy whatever product that you need because it’s no hassle. Look for what you want, order it and have it delivered straight to your door, just like that! With the ease of shopping because of the worldwide web, why can’t donating to your favorite organization be that easy? With Amazon Smile it is!
So what is Amazon smile you ask? Well let me tell you:
At this point, most people know about Amazon, but did you know while you, your family,
your friends and pretty much anyone shopping can donate with just the click of a button? Smile will donate .5% of every purchase that is made while they are shopping as long as they have selected your organization. They just need to go to
smile.amazon.com using their regular account, and make sure that they have selected your business before they make their final purchase. Now that might not seem like a lot, but think of how many times people shop on amazon, it’s not a once in a while thing at all.

In order to be eligible you need to have a registered EIN number as well as be a 501(c)(3) in good standing. Your organization also must not be a private fundraiser. Once you meet
those requirements, a designated administrator from your business can then set you up
with an EFT account. Every quarter your donations will be put directly into the account that you provide, easy as that! Unfortunately, they are not able to do paper checks, they will only do it as a direct deposit. The minimum they will deposit into your account is 5.00, so make sure that you are spreading the word to all that you know, to shop Amazon Smile with your organizations name!
While you can, by word of mouth, tell your friends and family to make sure they are thinking of you when they shop, you can also post about it on any social media that you may have. You can make a Facebook post or you can put the link and information on your web page. If you still aren’t sure how you want to put this information out to the public, Amazon has your back! Once you sign on to your organizations account on amazon, you can go to their marketing tools area where they can guide you in the right direction, such as a social media banner.
Fundraising can be difficult, but Amazon Smile has made it easier for you to do so with thesetype of donations. All you have to do is post about it!

Pets: A Varying Palette

September 11, 2018

I’m sure that everyone at some point in their pet’s life have heard that human food is not good for your them. Though there are certain spices and foods that you should avoid, not all human food is actually bad for your pet companion!

Think about it this way, your cat and your dog, they eat foods that are enriched with chicken, turkey, beef, etc. Well aren’t those all foods that we as humans eat? Have you ever taken a look in your pet’s wet food and noticed veggies? How about looking at the back of the food bag and reading the ingredients. I bet that you will find some familiar foods, some of which might be some of your favorites!

Not only do your dogs and cats have a wide variety with in their food, so do some of the not so average pets such as pigs, birds and lizards to name a few. Just like Humans our companions also have quote the varying palette.

Lizards, dogs and birds are predominately carnivorous , but it doesn’t mean that they won’t eat those healthy fruits and veggies. For example Apples are a great snack ( sans the seeds ) for your furry AND scaly friends in moderation. They are high in fiber and low in fat making for a yummy change up for the pets that you love. Another fruit that is has a dual purpose is watermelon. Not only is this good for your pet but it will also help keep them hydrated seeing as it is mostly water based. Watermelon is packed with vitamins that help with muscle and nerve function.

Lets not leave those veggies out either! Carrots are a favorite of dogs, lizards and birds because of the crunch that comes with it. They also promote great eye and skin health. Sweet potato is a base that is used in several brands of treats, but can easily just be cut up and fed to your pet raw. This is also a nutrient rich treat, and much healthier than white potato.

Here are a list of safe fruits and veggies that you can give your pets in moderation:

Spinach                Green Beans      Pumpkin              Broccoli                Brussel Sprouts Apricot

Cabbage              Carrots                 Cucumber           Celery                   Apple                    Mango

Banana                                 Blueberries         Raspberries         Pear                       Cantaloupe         Watermelon

Here is a list that you should try and avoid:

Cherries               Grapes                 Raisins                  Lime                      Lemon                  Grapefruit

Persimmons     Onion                    Garlic                     Rhubarb               Mushrooms

When it comes to meat, you can never go wrong with added protein as a treat, or as an addition to meals every once in a while. What you want to look out for here is seasoning. You should never give your pet meat that has been seasoned. Most seasonings have adverse effects that could cause long term damage when ingested, so make sure you are paying attention! A great treat for any type of pet would actually be eggs! This is a tasty treat that has great benefits for your furry ( or scaly ) friends skin. This is generally something that you would not give your bird.

So next time you go to grab yourself a snack or cook dinner, go ahead and look what you are making and maybe surprise your pet with a new treat!

Fundraising 5k

August 24, 2018

Running a marathon, that sounds fun right? No I didn’t think so. But you know what sounds fun? A 5k! Whether you are walking or running, it’s something that you can do solo, with your family, with a group, even with your dog! In the past couple of years 5k’s have been making there way on to the scene being used as a great way to get people together to exercise for a cause. Who wouldn’t want to get fit while supporting their favorite organization?

Being in the animal field, such as running a sanctuary, or being a foster, you are relying a lot on the donations that come in from the general public. Sometimes you need to get creative to get the community involved, and what better way than by jumping in on the band wagon and hosting a 5k in honor of your facility. These types of events are also really great to get some face to face interaction with those who are potential supporters and make a more personal connection, not only with you the owner, but with the animals that they will be donating too.

5k walks or runs are great for the community because you can host a larger amount of people at one time. In a time where health is a big focus, these types of fundraising events give people motivation to get out and do something while supporting something they are passionate about. To make it even better you, could make the 5k dog friendly so that people can bring their best friend out and support his furry brothers and sisters.

Other local animal products can set up stands at the beginning of the race and a portion of their proceeds can be donated to you. This is also a great way to spread the word about local business that people might not realize is in their very own community.

This is also a great time to spotlight some of your furry friends that the walk is benefitting. If you are in the business of adoption, bring some of your adoptable. Who knows they might even find their furrever home, or at the least get someone to sponser them! If you are trying to raise funds for a santuary, or a facility that doesn’t adopt animals, and you just give them a safe haven, bring them out so they can show their appreciation!

Whats wonderful about events like this, and most other types of events, is that most of the policies that we at Animal Welfare Organization Insurance Program write for our organizations will already have this covered. If they don’t they make it really easy to get the coverage so that it’s one less thing for you to worry about when you are putting on your 5k.

Fundraising is a tough thing to do , but when you can make it fun and interactive, people are more likely to come out and see what you are all about! Spread your love for your animals to other’s by walking it out for a cause.

So you found an animal in need?
No doubt we can all agree how hot it has been this summer. Not only is it hot for us , it is also hot for our furry friends as well! So what happens when you find an animal in need? There are a few steps you can take to make sure your friend is well taken care of.

Is this animal native wildlife? If so take note of a few things.

Does it have open or visible wounds?

Is it acting abnormally?

Does it seem to be breathing rapidly?

These are all questions that your local animal control or vet are going to ask. Always assess your surroundings, your safety is number one! Your local animal control or veterinarian should be able to guide you to the correct phone number if they are unable to help.

If you feel that you can safely handle the animal, make sure that you have gloves on. For
smaller animals, put them in a box padded with shredded newspaper or towels, and in an area that is quiet until you are given further instructions. Make sure that if you do handle the animal to wash your hands vigorously afterwards.

For a dog or a cat that doesn’t seem to have anyone with them, go ahead and call the local shelters and veterinarian. If they are friendly, try and read their tag, you might be able to get in touch with their owner. In this day and age, most pets are micro-chipped so the vet can be a great help! Even though you might have the urge to give the dog water or food, hold off on doing so until you contact the vet. Dog’s and cat’s have allergies too so you don’t want to upset their stomach, and chugging water isn’t good for humans and animals alike!

Let’s all have fun for what’s left of the summer and keep our friends safe in the process!

No matter how much love you have for animals, as an animal welfare organization you still need donations to fund basic necessities. Food, bedding, and medicine all come with a price and raising the funds to cover them is one of your biggest goals. Depending on your support system, partnerships, and the number of animals you provide care for, finding donors is sometimes challenging for animal shelters.

We’ve put together a list with five of our favorite fundraising ideas to increase donations to your animal shelter.

 

  • Professional Pet Photos

People treat their pets like family and giving them a chance to have professional photos taken is a great opportunity to raise money for your animal shelter. Partner with a local professional photographer to set up a photo opportunity at your location. Invite local community members to bring their pets for a photo session. You can charge a flat fee or accept donations depending on the photographers pricing. In addition to money raised by pictures, visitors may find a new beloved family member they’d like to adopt.

 

  • Pet Costume Contest

A pet costume contest is another fun way to raise money. Look for local community events like builder shows or street fairs that offer vendor spaces to organizations. Once you have an event scheduled, invite the community to submit pictures of the pets in costumes for a friendly competition. At the event, display the photos and let visitors vote for their favorite one with monetary contributions. When the contest is over, award the top three with a pet store gift card or baskets filled with pet supplies.

 

  • Hold a Pet Wash

Hosting a pet wash is a fun twist on the traditional car wash approach. Find a public spot that will let you set up that gets a good amount of foot traffic and is easy for patrons to stop in. Offer to give their pets a bath in exchange for a donation to your animal shelter.

 

  • Sell Animal Calendars

Calendars filled with animal pictures are a huge hit! You can either take pictures of animals available for adoption or ask adopting families to submit pictures of their furry family members. Connect with a local printing company to create and finalize the calendars and then sell them starting in November at events you attend, on social media, or on your website.

 

  • Add Penny-Wars to your Vendor Table

Many animal shelters set up at vendor events throughout the year. Having a game or some engaging activity at your table is a great way to attract traffic and start conversations. A Penny War allows attendees to vote for either a favorite animal or breed by dropping their change into the appropriate bucket.

Animals have a knack for capturing the hearts of many, which is why photographing the animals in your care is a crucial step in preparing for adoptions. Potential adopters spend time scouring the Internet looking for the right match for their family. As they scroll through pictures, you want to make sure they stop on your website or social media page and call about one of the dogs or cats you have available. Taking great photos of animals is not always easy because they are unpredictable and don’t always want to “sit and smile” for the camera.

Here are six tips for taking adoption pictures that instill a connection with potential adopters:

  • Avoid using flash.

 

If you use a flash, you’ll notice the animal’s eyes look red or blue in the final shot. Some animals may even be frightened by the flash making the photo session impossible. Instead, find an area with plenty of natural lighting so you don’t have to rely on the camera’s flash.

  • Focus on their eyes.

 

A dog or cat’s eyes speak volumes to potential adopters and are the key to capturing their heart. They tell a lot about the animal without you having to explain anything. If you can’t get them to look at the camera, go to where they are looking or ask for help from other volunteers.

  • Take pictures at their level.

 

The picture should be all about the dog or cat and getting to their level makes it easier to center the frame on them. Don’t forget to take close-ups so the animal is the star of the picture.

  • Show the animal’s personality.

 

Is the dog or cat playful? Or do they prefer to lie in the sun or a quiet place indoors? Try to showcase their personality so the picture paints a story of what potential adopters can expect. If the dog or cat likes to interact with humans, include photos of them playing or laying on the lap of a volunteer.

  • Use treats or toys they like.

 

Trying to persuade a dog or cat to look at you with a less than desirable treat or toy will get you nowhere. Make sure you use their favorites to get the best results.

  • Patience is important.

 

Patience is necessary when it comes to photographing animals. Some sessions will go exactly as planned and others can take some time. If a dog or cat isn’t quite cooperating with your efforts, give them a break by moving on to the next one. Sometimes they may just not be in the mood to interact with you, but they could be later on.

As social media use continues to rise, organizations, including animal welfare organizations, are relying on it to deliver their message, increase donations, and spread awareness. While the platforms are beneficial to your animal shelter, they also open the door to potential risks. If you or a volunteer posts the wrong thing, what was innocent can quickly damage your reputation.

Many animal welfare organizations choose to institute a social media policy and guidelines that volunteers agree to in order to volunteer for the organization. Before creating your own social media policy, it is best to outline what is and what is not acceptable behavior for volunteers. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of popular points to consider below.

The first policy you need to create should address volunteers posting on your organization’s behalf. Questions to answer include:

  • Who will curate content?
  • Who will publish it?
  • What channels do volunteers need to go through for approval?
  • Who will monitor and respond to comments and conversations on the business page?

It is a good idea to not add every volunteer as an editor or administrator on your account. Defining these roles up front limits any confusion. Once this is defined, you can create a strategy that:

  • Supports your mission and vision
  • Creates guidelines for what is acceptable or not acceptable
  • Illustrates your values as an organization

There is some debate on the legality of limiting or controlling volunteers’ personal activities on social media. It is especially important to outline what is acceptable and what is not because they often list organizations they volunteer at on their profile or promote your organization. If a volunteer posts something inappropriate, others may think your animal welfare organization condones their actions and choose to no longer support your mission. Here are several items to address in this section:

  • Define your core principles.
  • If they have doubts, skip posting.
  • If something is controversial, include a disclaimer stating their opinions are solely their own.
  • Never post pictures of someone harming animals.
  • Never post pictures that negate the quality of care your organization provides to animals.
  • Don’t post anything illegal.
  • Never share sensitive information about donors or adopting families.

Creating a social media policy helps to guide volunteers to make better decisions when they share information publicly. When implemented properly and volunteers are held accountable for their actions, the reputation of your animal welfare organization remains positive.