How can you be a great animal shelter volunteer?  Follow these five steps and you will become one.

1) You must be dedicated to the health and welfare of the animals you take care of in the shelter by giving them your love and kindness, showing them you care by taking care of them when they are sick and feeling left out, being their friend when they have lost their friend.

2) Make sure that they are fed and watered as per the instruction for the animal.  If an animal requires a special diet make sure that they only get the food that is recommended for that animal.

3) Take the time to play and walk with the animals.  Some animals require more vigorous work outs to keep them happy, others only require some petting and attention.  Take the time to know the animals you work with.

4) Once you know the animals read what other volunteers have said about the animals in their write-ups.  Keep track of what you notice about the animals and add your own information about each and every one.  Some of the items you can keep track of are:

  • How well they respond to voice command while playing
  • How well they walk around people and other animals
  • How well they play with other animals
  • Weather or not they adapt to having animals of other species around them (cat and dogs)
  • Weather or not they are approachable by other people

5) You must always be there at your appointed time because the animals depend upon you to be there.  An exceptional volunteer will also make time in their holidays to make sure that the animals are well taken care of.

So if you are thinking of becoming an animal shelter volunteer then the five items above will give you a clear idea of what is needed.  This is really what any animal needs weather or not it is at a shelter, in the home, or a stray.  They all need love and attention.

 

Animal Shelters and rescues attend adoption events as exhibitors to help raise mission awareness and increase adoptions.  Events range from a small open house to a larger event with multiple animal shelters and rescues.  Deciding to attend an event comes with risks. Plan in advance to minimize these risks. Train your volunteer team on how their actions can help protect your animal shelter or rescue. Here are five things your animal shelter needs to know before attending a special event:

  1. Does the event align with your mission? Look at the mission or goal of the event.  Does their goal align with your mission? If the two do not align, the event is not in your best interest.  Attending an event that does not promote your mission, leaves you open to negative publicity or loss of a positive reputation.
  2. Read the contract. Most event organizers require you to comply with rules and an agreement to become an exhibitor. Make sure you read the contract or agreement to determine if you can meet these requirements. Common event guidelines include set-up and tear down times, proof of insurance, vaccine requirements for animals, and expectations for how you present yourself during the event. If you are unable to meet the requirements outlined in the agreement do not register as an exhibitor.  You risk a negative impact to your animal shelter or rescue if you attend and do not follow the guidelines.
  3. What can go wrong? Prior to attending an event, make a list of all the potential risks. Risks include animals getting loose, volunteers not showing, animals injuring attendees or volunteers.  Once you have a list of possibilities, create a proactive plan that identifies how you will minimize the potential for these.  For example, one significant risk is an animal jumping on an attendee and scratching that individual.  A plan to keep that from occurring includes making sure volunteers are assisting the attendees while talking to, petting and playing with the animals.
  4. Choose the right animals. Choosing the right animals to take is a key in minimizing the risk of injury to attendees. Your goal is to increase adoptions by attending the event.  Animals that have just recently entered your care may not be a good fit.  Choose animals that can handle social situations and interaction with strangers.  Animals that are skittish or easily scared have unpredictable behaviors and should remain at the shelter or in their foster home during events.
  5. Choose the right volunteer team. Volunteers who attend the event need to be knowledgeable of your animal shelter or rescue, your mission and how to present themselves during an event. If you choose to send new volunteers, make sure you pair them with an experienced volunteer that understands adoption event logistics and your expectations.

Adoption and special events are a powerful way to educate and involve your community with your shelter.  Follow these steps before attending an event to create a positive experience for all involved.

 

Volunteers are one of the cornerstones to running your animal shelter or rescue successfully.  You rely on them to help with day to day needs, care for the animals, organize events, spread the word about your mission, and be passionate about the great work they are doing. Did you know they are one of your biggest risks?  Volunteers are human and unpredictable in their actions.  To successfully manage their actions and minimize risk, implement an official volunteer program.  Here are the categories your program requires:

Volunteer Handbook

Volunteer handbooks contain valuable information about the animal shelter or rescue.  They provide new volunteers with:

  1. Background information
  2. Mission and Vision
  3. Application process
  4. Training expectations
  5. Behavior expectations
  6. Volunteer waiver
  7. Organization policies

Require new volunteers to review the handbook prior to completing a volunteer application.  This information sets the precedence for expectations during their time volunteering for your organization.

Volunteer Waivers

Volunteer waivers are typically included as part of the handbook.  They are vital for animal shelters and rescues to have in place.  A strong waiver includes:

  1. Release of liability for injury and bites
  2. Acceptance that injuries are not covered under a worker’s compensation policy
  3. Acceptance of policies and procedures
  4. Emergency contact information
  5. Release to contact to provide medical help or attention if needed

Volunteer waivers are a safety precaution. Volunteers may still choose to file a lawsuit if they believe the animal shelter or rescue is responsible for an injury.  Waivers are part of your defense in court but should not be your only defense.  Work with your legal counsel to draft a waiver that best suits your animal shelter or rescue needs.

The Right Insurance

The best way to be proactive in protecting your animal shelter or rescue from financial loss as a result of a lawsuit is to purchase insurance.  There are many types of insurance you can purchase for your organization including:

  1. General Liability Insurance
  2. Professional Liability Insurance
  3. Accident & Health Insurance
  4. Director’s & Officer’s Insurance

Liability insurance protects your financial assets by paying defense and settlement costs of a covered lawsuit.   Take the time to research animal shelter insurance options today.  Purchasing insurance after a lawsuit is filed will not protect you.

Volunteer Training

Volunteer training is vital for new and existing volunteers.  Create a strong volunteer training program by answering these questions:

  1. What do you want the training to accomplish?
  2. What do your volunteers need to know?
  3. What do your volunteers already know?
  4. How do they learn best?

These answers will help you to create a valuable training program that is beneficial to both the volunteer and the organization.  Once training is completed, have your volunteers tell you what they learned and how they can implement this in their tasks.  Training is never complete and should be offered on a routine basis to volunteers.  The knowledge and education help make them valuable to your team.

 

When many think of animal rescue, images of pulling animals from shelters, hosting adoptive events and most importantly, finding good homes for pets in need.   While these activities are an important aspects of animal rescue, there are other details that involve the business portion of running a rescue group.

A rescue group has medical and food expenses, transport planning and fundraising activities that must be addressed.     If they have a physical location where the animals are housed or meet potential adopters, liability and hazard insurance must be purchased.   But is animal rescue insurance coverage needed if the group does not have a permanent structure for housing and visits by adopters?   Do they need coverage if the group is completely foster-based?

The answer to these questions is yes, rescue groups that are foster-based do have the need for animal rescue insurance.   

General liability insurance is needed by all rescue groups.   This type of policy will cover property damage along bodily injury and subsequent medical bills. General liability coverage can help defend your group against lawsuits, slander and libel that are outside the realm of your group’s service.

Officers and directors insurance can cover your group’s board of directors, employees and volunteers.   It can protect the personal assets of those serving against lawsuits directed towards the rescue group.  Having such a policy in place may encourage qualified individuals from serving on the board of directors or as a group officer.  This coverage can also cover the 501C organization itself against many type of lawsuits. 

While the task of purchasing insurance may not have been considered when your group was founded, it is a valuable method of protection.   Defense against a lawsuit that can costs thousands of dollars and can place personal assets of members and the very existence of your organization at risk.  Allow your group to continue on its mission of saving the lives of homeless pets by obtaining adequate insurance coverage.

Matching fur babies with their family members is a day that will change the lives of both forever. This day can come even sooner if you publicize the animal as much as possible. You can increase animal adoptions in easy, simple ways.

Online Viewing

Animal adoptions have proven to skyrocket once people can put a face to an animal and fall in love. Put each pet on your website so people can browse through and find the type of animals that interest them. Offer fun personality traits and any background information. Write attention catching, fun copy to draw people into each pet. Make sure the pet looks snazzy and that the picture showcases their personality. Besides you own website, register with PetFinder.com. This website helps thousands of pets find their soulmates each year.

Mobile Adoption Events
Getting pets in front of hundreds of hands waiting to pet them will help your adoption rates. You can set up these adoption events at any city gathering or festival to increase exposure. Hand out education material about adopting pets so people can see the benefits. Many people simply cannot resist petting a cute animal and just leaving the animal there watching as they walk away. It’s hard to turn down puppy dog eyes and a sweet kitty cat purr!

Television
Many local television networks offer spots about adoptable pets. Dress a few of the pets up in a cute “Adopt Me” attire and parade them on television. If you’ve ever seen any of the late night talk show’s animal spots, you know they are some of the most fun and popular segments. People can see the personality of the animals and connect which leads them to coming in to visit the pet for potential adoption.

Flyers

Take adorable pictures of the adoptable pets and print them on cardstock along with a playful biography. You can place these at the organization when people come to visit or you can pass the flyers out when you are out with the pets on a walk or playing outside. Ask local businesses if you can stick some of the cards in their windows or at the cashier counter so the pets get utmost exposure.

 

A recent study conducted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) shows that people who adopt dogs from animal shelters are more content with their pet than people who buy a dog from a pet shop. This tears apart the stereotype of animal shelter dogs being “damage goods”, unfriendly and slow.

The truth is that animal shelter dogs are incredibly grateful to leave their strict confines and enter into your world. Can you imagine how good it must feel to leave a crowded shelter with little space to roam and play? You are doing an animal shelter dog an enormous favor by bringing him home even though you might not notice it right away. It might take your adopted dog a day or two to feel comfortable in your home but rest assured that deep down he is ecstatic with his new spacious digs, his new yard and his new family.

The survey mentioned above also indicates that dog owners who adopted from animal shelters were more than two times as likely to recommend adopting from the shelter than those who purchased a dog at a retail outlet. Part of the reason is the fact that dogs adopted from animal shelters typically require much less treatment and care from veterinarians than those bought at retail pet stores. So, you’ll be opening your heart and your home to an animal in need but you won’t be opening your wallet as much as those who opt to shop for a dog.

Part of the reason why owners who adopted animal shelter dogs are so pleased with their new pets is that the majority of these dogs lived with families in the past. This means that they will be able to quickly and easily socialize with you and your family. They’ll also be much more likely than pet shop dogs to seamlessly transition into your living environment and blend in with the rest of your household.

Perhaps the most rewarding part of adopting a shelter dog is that you are saving a life. Every dog deserves to live and live in a quality home. Just think about how much a shelter dog would appreciate the chance to live comfortably alongside a friendly family in a spacious home. Adopt a shelter dog today and save a life.

A landlord may feel the need to require animal insurance as a means of limiting her liability. Landlords, although appearing to have an interest primarily in their tenants and the tenants’ well-being, actually have a greater interest in themselves and the condition of their security property, otherwise known to  the rest of us as merely  our apartment or house. Because the condition and safety of their property interests is at the top of their lists, they must take practical steps to protect that property and their own liability as the owner of the property.

Animal insurance is important because it protects landlords against two types of liability, both of which scare property owners.  Animal  insurance covers the landlord in the event of any damage caused by the animal and  covers liability the landlord may incur as a result of an injurious act of a pet.

Animal insurance covering pet damage to a rental unit can be added as a rider to a tenants regular renter’s insurance policy for an additional policy premium. Insurance which includes liability insurance covering injuries caused by the tenant’s pets can also be added as a rider to the tenant’s renter’s insurance policy in locations where that coverage is available for renters to purchase. i f a  policy purports to cover various pet related injuries, be certain that the policy does not offer such limited coverage that it becomes impracticable to give effect to that provision. Coverage for anything is available in a particular state  only when that state’s legislature authorizes that coverage

There are additional contractual ways of offering protection to a landlord in addition to requiring animal insurance coverage provided by tenants on the acts of their pets. Certain pet agreements entered into by landlords and tenants may serve to reduce risks to landlords caused by pet misbehavior but does not replace the protection of animal insurance. One of these agreements can be put into effect by clearly stating the nature of any acts the landlord is responsible for and which acts of the pet’s behavior are then the sole  responsibility of the tenant-pet owners.

Any landlord making use of a pet agreement  to assign rights and/or responsibilities relating to pets on the premises must maintain a  list of the specific pets covered b the agreement and must further be vigilant to keep the list updated.

 

Millions of animals are euthanized each year before they even have a chance to find a loving home. Giving these animals a second chance combined with the smile and love they will bring to the new owner’s home simply warms the heart. Holding pet adoption events could be the gateway to a whole new life for these animals. The best thing is that adoption events aren’t too costly and can be held in many locations. Choosing a great location is essential to the success of your adoption event.

Petco

Petco is often flooded with excited potential pet owners each weekend as they visit adoptable pets. Petco partners with many foundations and companies to host these types of events. They offer a large area to your adoptable pets so people can meet the animals and find the perfect fit. You can offer infromation about each pet and even give education material provided by Petco to potential new family members of the pets. All you have to do is become an Approved Adoption Partner by completing an online application.

Local Parades and Events

A great place to bring together animals and their future owners is at a local parade or local event. Basically anywhere in your city that brings together many people in one place is a perfect place to host an adoption. People can spend time with the animals while enjoying the event at the same time. The best way to set this up is to contact the coordinators of the local event. They will usually give you a perfect location and let you take the reigns from there. Who can resist a little kid at a parade begging his/her parents for a cute, cuddly new pet?!

PetSmart – National Adoption Weekends

Petsmart is one of the best places to find wagging tails and purring kitty cats during adoption events. It’s is not only a great location to hold a classic pet adoption event, but gives you ultimate exposure on Petsmart’s National Adoption Weekends. PetSmart holds these events four times a year featuring several adoption organizations each weekend. On average the weekends help over 17,000 pets find their soulmate.

Seeing a  pet that was once homeless, frightened and sad happily going home with their new family is a very rewarding experience.   A successful adoption can make all the hard work of animal rescue seem worthwhile.

While adoptions are a continuous goal of rescue groups, hosting adoption events is a great way not only to encourage adoptions but to promote animal rescue.  Involving other rescue groups can somewhat lesson the workload of  running adoption events, but can draw more people to see the pets.

If your rescue would like to organize an adoption event, there are some suggestions you may want to consider.

Location, Location, Location

Choosing a venue is one of the first things to do when planning an adoption event.  If you would like to have the pets at the event, make sure they would be welcome at the location.  There should be space for dog walking and the venue should be easily located.   This may encourage those passing by the venue to visit and hopefully, consider adoption.

Get the Word Out

People need to learn about the adoption event.  Place posters in places of high foot traffic.   Radio stations may do “local event” announcements for non-profit groups.  Use social media to announce and promote the adoption event. Place photographs of some of the available pets on your advertising materials.

All Hands on Deck

Adoption events require a lot of work.   Recruit as many volunteers as possible and provide them with information about the pets needing homes and your group’s adoption process so they can inform visitors.   Volunteers will also be needed to walk dogs, ensure water is available for animals present.   If cats are part of the event, volunteers can engage them in play to showcase this aspect of their personalities.

A Common Goal

If several different rescue group are participating in event, each organization may have different adoption fees, procedures and requirements. Do not allow these differences to interfere with the ultimate goal of adoption events, placing homeless pets into loving homes.

More Then Adoption

An adoption event is a great opportunity to educate the public about the plight of homeless animals, the benefits of adopting adult pets and how adoption saves lives.

One way that pet owners often show their affection for their beloved pet is through food. However, they do not realize the detrimental impact that animal obesity may have on their pet’s health. Like humans, obesity in animals may diabetes, heart problems and arthritis. Therefore, it is important to take preventative measures to avoid animal obesity becoming an issue for your pet. If you are a dog owner, then here are five simple steps you can take to prevent your dog from becoming obese.

  1. Discuss calorie intake with your vet. Different sizes of dogs have different dietary requirements. The larger the dog the more calories they will need. It is important that you know exactly how much your dog needs.
  2. Plan an exercise routine. Exercise is a important part of general health and fitness. Dogs need regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight, either through walking or through energetic play. Look at your daily routine and make a plan for when it is best to exercise your dog.
  3. Skip the snacks. While offering your dog healthy snacks as a reward or as an occasional treat is fine, giving them treats between meals on a regular basis or slipping them food off your dinner plate is not.
  4. Spread your dogs meals. If your dog seems hungry between meals, then give them more meals throughout the day but in smaller portions. This is similar to the human diet concept of eating little and often.
  5. Use a smaller bowl. There are some studies that have shown that if you have a large bowl you will feed your dog a larger amount of food than they need simply to fill the bowl. So, by using a smaller bowl you are more likely to feed your dog a realistic amount.

By following these five simple steps you are taking sensible precautions to avoid animal obesity and you are being a responsible pet owner. These tips will help to lower the risk of your dog suffering from a wide range of health problems that could affect their life span and quality of life.