Physical activity in your dog, cat, or other animal can prevent diabetes, heart problems, and obesity. Shelter animals in particular benefit from the physical exertion and social stimulation that a good play session can provide.

Besides keeping you both healthy, exercise can also be a means of bonding with your four-legged friend. Here are a few fun exercises you can enjoy with your pet:

Everyone loves a classic game of tag, even animals. This is the perfect game to get both yours and your pet’s heart rate up. Simply chase your dog around, ‘tag’ him, turn tail, and run in the other direction. Many cats love this game too.

Monkey in the Middle
Grab a bouncy ball and stand about six feet away from a wall. Encourage your cat or dog to stand between you and the wall. Bounce the ball against the wall and catch it again, not letting it bounce off the floor. Your cat or dog will run back and forth trying to catch the ball. Let the ball fall to the floor every so often so your pet can catch it. Once this happens, they’ll likely run away from you with the ball, turning this into a game of tag as you run after him. You should both get a good workout with this fun fetching game.

This is another good exercise for both cats and dogs. Ever notice how your pet jumps onto your yoga mat the minute it hits the floor? Instead of shooing him out of the room for your next yoga session, invite him to lay on the mat with you. Many animals are naturally curious about all those weird poses you’re doing on the floor. Cats and dogs in particular are already familiar with up- and down- dog style stretches, so why not let him perform these poses right next to you?

When exercising with any animal, it’s best to find activities he likes to do naturally, then find a way to get in some physical exercise for yourself in the process. This is especially true of less domesticated animals like horses. With some creativity, you can find the perfect activity for you and your animal, and you’ll both benefit from a healthier, happier lifestyle.

Volunteering is great to do for a lot of reasons. It gives you something to put on your resume, helps an organization in need and it will make you feel good as well. Places like hospitals and homeless shelters are common places that people volunteer, and may have plenty of volunteers. A service dog academy can always use your help though. While a service dog academy may not be your first choice, here are a few benefits to volunteering there.

1. You Will Gain New Skills.

With any volunteering gig, you will find yourself learning new skills. Volunteering at a service dog academy is no different. If you are looking to become a veterinarian, dog walker or dog trainer, this is a good place to start. You will be working with professionals who will teach you valuable skills that you will be able to use some day.

2. It Looks Good On The Resume.

If you happen to have little or no job experience, finding employment can be difficult. However, listing volunteer work on your resume not only shows that you have work ethic, but it speaks volumes about your character as well. If you have developed a strong relationship with someone you have been working with, you can use them as a work reference. Since it is animal related, it may also help you get a job at a pet store or animal shelter.

3. You Will Be Helping Others.

Service dogs provide a valuable service to blind and disabled people from all around the world. Without them, some people’s quality of life would suffer. By volunteering at a service dog academy, you are not only changing your life, but the lives of the dog’s future owners. With the service dogs in their life, they will be able to get around and perform every day tasks with greater ease. Thanks to your service, these people’s lives will be changed for the better. That is something you can feel good about.

It is important to be aware of signs of fear and aggression when handling a fearful dog or cat. They may attack with very little warning; however, you can help avoid personal injury by paying attention to the animal’s body language and any sounds they may be making. Growling or hissing can be an animal’s way of warning you to back off.
Physical signs of fear for animals may include:
• Ears pulled back and down against their head
• Eyes wide open and avoiding eye contact
• Licking lips or yawning
• Crouching or huddling close to the ground to appear smaller
• Puffing hair out on their back or tail to seem larger
• Tucking tail between their legs
Physical signs of an aggressive cat or dog may include:
• Pointing ears directly toward you or the object of their aggression
• Staring you down with their eyes
• Baring their teeth
• Stiffening their body and standing straight to appear bigger
• For dogs, the flagging of the tail is a sign of aggression, but be careful not to mistake this as a friendly wag
• Holding their tails straight down and back is a sign of aggression for cats
Play it safe and exercise caution. Always be aware that any animal may attack without making any sounds or showing any physical signs before striking.

What do you do when you find an injured wild or domesticated animal? First thing is…try to determine how hurt it is. If it appears to be able to be helped, approach with caution. Both wild and domesticated animals have the tendency to bite as a natural reaction. If need be, call your local animal control, but if you try to help a hurt animal here are some important facts:
1. Do not try to lift the injured animal until you are positive you can do so without risk to yourself or the animal;
2. If you have gloves, wear them, as it is unknown what the animal might have been exposed to or has contracted;
3. Always keep an injured animal at a safe distance from your face and eyes;
4. Call for help when necessary, especially when you know you are in danger of traffic or other risky sites;
5. Do not try to release an animal from a trap as this poses danger to both you and the animal.
Here are some helpful hints when you know you have found a domesticated cat or dog that has been injured:
• Use a towel to muzzle a dog’s mouth to avoid biting
• Use a towel or other available cloth to wrap a cat gently as a means of restraint
• Call the local veterinary clinic, rescue, humane society or emergency vet clinic for assistance
If necessary and in a rural area, call the police as they can guide you in the right direction.
These helpful basic guidelines can help you in your rescue efforts to save an animal’s life. They are also imperative in keeping you safe from dangerous situations. For more information, please contact the Animal Welfare Organization Insurance Program, AWOIP.

Six tips to keep your shelter a safe place to work
People who work at animal shelters care about animals and want to make sure they are healthy and safe. It is also important to to make the shelter a safe place for the humans who work and volunteer there. Below are six tips to help keep your shelter a safe place to work.

Always wash your hands
We learned about the importance of hand-washing in pre-school and those lessons still apply. Hand-washing is your first line of defense when fighting off disease. There are some animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Taking fifteen seconds to thoroughly wash your hands with disinfecting soap can help you to stay healthy.

Take care of your food
A shelter should have a clearly defined area for the storage and preparation of food. Animal cages should not be cleaned in or around the food preparation or storage areas. Also, food should not be kept in the same refrigerator as veterinary drugs or laboratory samples. Finally, it is a good practice to not eat in the areas where animals are housed or treated.

Treat your wounds
No one working at a shelter wants to be bit or scratched, but unfortunately it does sometimes happen. When it happens, make sure to seek proper medical attention and do not try to treat it on your own. You should also make sure to report any wounds or injuries to your management staff.

Keep your vaccinations up to date
Again, bites and scratches do sometimes happen. Animal shelter employees should receive a tetanus vaccination every ten years. Staff working with wild animals or even potentially at risk strays may also need to have a rabies vaccination.

Pay attention to OSHA regulations
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations give clear guidelines to ensure workplace safety. Some regulations, such as the proper use and storage of chemicals and placing signage when cleaning and mopping the floors, are particularly relevant in animal shelters. OSHA also has guidelines for proper disposal of medical waste such as syringes. You can review their guidelines on the OSHA website.

Always have a plan
No matter how much you do right, sometimes things just go wrong. Make sure you have a plan. Every employee should know who to contact and what to do in case of dangerous weather, fire, or other emergency situations.

One of the worst nightmares for any shelter is the outbreak of a disease within the shelter. We are entrusted to look after these animals so if they get ill under our care that is a horrible outcome.
Ringworm is one of the most common outbreak in most shelters, it spreads easily, and before you know it, most of your shelter is infected.
Fortunately, there are some simple steps that you can take to significantly reduce the chances of an outbreak in your shelter, thus ensuring that you take the utmost care in looking after your animals. Here are five of the best:
1. Diagnosing Infected Animals Quickly, & Isolating Them – This is the best step in preventing an epidemic if you have an infection in your shelter. The problem is that accurate tests are not always available. This is why it is best to adopt a ‘worst case scenario’, and isolate any potentially infected animals before they have a chance to spread the ringworm.
2. Decontaminating An Infected Environment – If you have an outbreak, then effective decontamination is essential. In some cases normal disinfectant will suffice. But you might want to go a step further, and use a broad spectrum of disinfectants to ensure that you don’t suffer any relapses.
3. Identify & Remove Exposed Animals – This is separate to infected animals, as it involves removing animals that are showing no symptoms and are not yet definitely infected. Basically, to stop the spread of ringworm as much as possible, you need to remove any animal that even might have come into contact with an infected animal. So if two dogs shared a kennel, but only one is showing symptoms, then it is best to remove them both to an isolated area.
4. Keep Newly Admitted Animals Protected – For many animals, a vaccine is available against ringworm. So to ensure that both they, and future animals are protected, try to get new arrivals vaccinated as soon as possible. This is especially important in shelters that may have already been infected.
5. Keep Everything Documented – For both ease of access, and to cover your own back, you should ensure that everything related to the ringworm outbreak, as well as what you are doing to prevent it is documented. This way you have easy access, and any authorities do too. You will know which animals are infected, which ones are exposed, and it will be much easier to control.

Taking better photos of animals involves understanding some basics about photography. These include using the right equipment, understanding lighting, and being able to catch the attention of the subject.
Use the Right Equipment
For good photography, even digital, a photographer should be working with a 35mm single lens reflex camera. The capabilities, even in automatic mode, allow far better control of factors such as timing, exposure, lighting type, and framing. Basic automatic cameras simply take a shot with a standard 22mm lens approach and automatically fire off a flash when inside. Both produce poor photos of any subject.
Make Lighting Work for You
Second, natural lighting in the morning and early evening is the best because it brings out the most color in a subject shot. Good subject photos of an animal will be fairly up close, and animals tend to behave a bit better in a natural environment than inside a kennel or artificial room. Red-eye in shots are common when a photograph is taken indoors and the flash is used. It also produces a bleached out photograph, providing a poor quality image of the animal.
Reduce Distractions
Third, the animal should be fed prior to the shot to ensure he or she is not distracted looking for food every other second. Use of a toy or calm voice commands can relax an animal enough to take a good photograph and capture the best side of the dog or cat.
With a bit of practice some amazing shots of animal shelter animals can be taken, potentially increasing the movement of animals into loving homes at a faster pace.

One of the most important aspects of keeping animals in a sheltering situation is cleanliness and sterilization. This is especially true when many of your charges are coming from abusive or neglectful backgrounds. You will save lives by ensuring that all individual living spaces and community areas are kept clean and free of infectious material. In addition to the benefit of saved lives, happy, healthy animals are much more likely to be adopted into their forever homes.
The first thing to note is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning is the physical removal of waste material, such as sweeping, picking up poop, taking out the garbage, and scrubbing the dirt from cages. Disinfecting is the use of chemicals to destroy the pathogens, which transmit infectious disease. There are many different types and classes of chemicals for this purpose. Each class has its own strengths and weaknesses. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the specific diseases that are most prevalent at your shelter. This will help determine which solutions you should be using. Here are some tips to help you keep on top of the momentous task of maintaining a healthy environment for the animals in your care:
• Always keep sick animals segregated from the healthy animals to avoid further infection.
• Maintain a schedule: Set which rooms are to be cleaned on which days and keep to it all the time.
• Switch it up with your disinfectant solutions. As discussed before, different solutions are more or less effective against different diseases. You can rotate different solutions on a weekly schedule, switch up bi-monthly, or even have a quarterly rotation.
• Observe proper hand-washing procedures. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer can also be helpful, but it is not effective against Parvo, Ring Worm, or Calcivirus. Properly washing your hands between handling animals and after taking off gloves is the safest way to ensure that infection is not passed from animal to animal.
• Be mindful of which animals you handle, in which order. Always have an idea of which animals are more likely to be susceptible to disease. Instead of going through the room and removing animals from their cages, one by one, handle the babies first, then move on to the healthy adults, who will be the most resistant to infection.
To learn more about protecting your animals and your shelter, visit us here.

As a nonprofit animal welfare company, you know that every choice you make for your business affects every animal. The reason that you are there is to find these little guys good homes. One of the first ways that your clients get to see the cats and dogs is through their pictures. Photos can make or break a shelter animal. Especially in our current selfie obsessed times, a good photo will help lead to a speedy placement for a lucky animal.
The photos of your animals represent your nonprofit animal welfare company. These help to make up a large part of your web presence. Not only will potential pet owners be looking at these photos, but so will potential investors in your company. We understand that you need proper representation. Good photos show the care you give your pets, the variety of animals you care for and the personality of your brand. A good collection of animal images can make a shelter and shelter animals.
Bring out the personality of a potential pet. For instance, if an active family is looking for a dog they may be drawn to pictures of dogs who look lively, look like they will enjoy going outside and look like they will be good with kids. For this type of dog, an action shot or outdoor shot may be the perfect thing. Staging the photos properly will not take long and can help make the connection between pet and person.
There are some steps which should be taken with every animal you photograph:
• Use natural lighting to avoid flash which can give an animal red-eye.
• Get a picture with the pet looking directly at the camera. The eyes can be a window into pet personality.
• Take pictures down on the level of your pet.
• Close up shots show the face and the quality of a pet’s hair.
• Take time to set up and then invite the pet into the area so they don’t get fidgety and run away.
Good photos will draw in potential pet owners. When scrolling through your website, an animal with clear eyes, personality and detail can make an adoption happen. You care about every pet who comes your way. Show this care by taking the time to capture that perfect photo.
To learn more about protecting your business and helping to grow a nonprofit animal welfare company, contact our team today!

We all know of the health benefits of exercise for humans, but many of us don’t realize how important it is for animals as well. It not only provides mental stimulation, but helps ward off potential health issues such as diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and obesity.
At home, dogs and cats can become bored and anxious if they don’t get enough exercise. This can lead to destructive behavior and other problems. Exercise releases endorphins, a feel-good chemical that keeps your pet happy, and helps curb aggression and unwanted behavior.
Exercise is especially important for animals in shelters. Shelter animals tend to get less exercise and social interaction than they need, which is where help from shelter volunteers comes in. Shelter volunteers play an important role in helping animals get the exercise they need to be well-adjusted and calm. This calm, well-adjusted demeanor is necessary if the animal is to be adopted quickly. Shelter volunteers give animals the interaction and activity they need so they can be less anxious when meeting potential owners.
Besides experiencing the physical health benefits of exercising with an animal, humans also reap mental and emotional benefits. Exercising with your animal can be a way of bonding with and learning about your pet.