So having already done big things - we can expect bigger things with this really important position that has been created at the Dartmouth shelter. The position has existed for awhile, and has been filled at least twice - but as soon as people were hired and realized how huge the job was and how tough it was going to be to fulfill it's mandate - the people very quickly tendered their resignations. It was pretty funny actually how the guy who took the job shortly before the AGM in April stood up and waved his hand proudly at the AGM in front of the membership quit the following week! That's what you call dedication to the animals of Nova Scotia!
But I digress - today Sandra emailed me because last night I talked about the disparity in numbers between what was in a news article yesterday and the number of animals published on the shelter's Petfinder site - 53 in the article as opposed to 16 on the Petfinder site. And by the end of our email exchanges I think we both realized that there were lessons to be learned from our experiences today.
It turns out that there in fact 53 dogs on site at the Metro SPCA - but only 16 of them are currently available for adoption - and in a press release that the SPCA put out yesterday - they were trying to show the public how much work is going on at the shelter currently - that regardless if they are all on Petfinder, they all need to be cared for until their time for adoption comes and they wanted to have a sense of how many animals there are in the building. It didn't occur to them that it might seem disingenuous to not say that they weren't all currently available for adoption.
To me though - I think that it would show just HOW busy the workers are - to break down where the dogs are in the system - so Sandra said I could let people know the numbers she gave me to give some indication what's going on behind the doors there -
"Of the 53 dogs, 16 of those are puppies. Of the 16 puppies, none were able to be posted on Petfinder until their surgeries were complete. We spayed and neutered the first 8 just yesterday, 4 of which are going to Shaid, and the other 4 are being adopted by us. We already contacted a number of pre-approved applications for puppies first thing this morning with viewings being set up as we speak. We prefer phoning people who have pre-approved applications first. The second group of 8 will not be available for adoption for at least another 2-3 weeks, as they are only 6-7 weeks old at the present time and are not ready to be altered and therefore cannot be viewed by the public.
When you subtract the 15 dogs currently on Petfinder and the 16 puppies, that takes our dog number down to 22. Of the 22 remaining dogs at the shelter, 10 of those dogs are Animal Control dogs, another 4 are currently being held as cruelty and/or seizures. That now takes our dog number down to 8 "other" dogs at the shelter. Of those 3 are in foster for either medical reasons or for socialization and two are not presenting well in their kennels and we are giving them time to adjust to the shelter before evaluating. . As for the last 3, they just moved up from Animal Control in the last 48 hours and will be temperament tested and posted hopefully within the next 24 hours."
So when you look at it this way - it really shows the flow of the shelter, all the work involved - the process that needs to take place when evaluating dogs and this process takes time and a great deal of effort on the part of everyone at the shelter.
So that really gives you a nuts and bolts look at the shelter and the ebb and flow of the 53 dogs - and how it can come down to only 16 dogs being available - and that's really great - and it shows a few things - #1 - that puppies come into rescue, which is fabulous, #2 - that pre-approved applications DO get dogs, and #3 - that animals do get to move through the system
If you want to read the original press release - you can read it on the SPCA's website, it's quite long.
So now I want to go on to some other meaty stuff - that's included in the press release, and also about the fact that an Executive Director is now in place at the Metro Shelter - and that's the fact that the Metro shelter does not accept owner surrenders, and is still really reactionary in its adoption policies, and doesn't do things like off-site adoptions or anything really creative except for things like when things go completely ape-shit offer discounts on cats.
As anyone who reads this blog knows - I am an avowed lover of all things Nathan Winograd - and he is the king of all things No-Kill - and he has got some amazing ideas about ways to make shelters truly no-kill - and one of his things about considering a shelter to be truly no-kill is when you make your shelter an open admission shelter - when you start accepting everything that comes through your door. Until you start doing that - you are not really a no kill shelter, because if you refuse animals coming through your door - those animals are going somewhere else - and wherever that is - they are going to either be tortured, abused or killed.
So it behooves you as a no kill shelter to accept everything that is offered to you. No questions asked. And statistics prove that 90% of those animals will be adoptable.
So what do you do with those animals that are coming through your doors? You can't pile them to the ceiling and become a hoarder of animals - you become creative with your adoptions. You take your animals off-site - bring the animals to the people. You open an adoption centre in a mall, you work with pet stores to bring animals in once a week to feature animals, you have a weekly adoption special on every news show in the city - not just one show. You have a weekly or monthly cable news show on Eastlink. You have your newsletter - and it features the animals in the shelter.
There are TONS of ideas out there on the interweb - and they are GOOD ideas. To be an excellent no kill shelter - we would not be inventing the wheel. It's been done before - in many places with many more animals and populations much larger than us. We just have to have the will and the way.
Unfortunately though, I am just the person writing this post, not the person doing the work. So I wish the new Executive Director luck. It's hard when you're mired in the cleaning of the cages - that was the problem of the last administration - I hope that doesn't happen with the new one. But that's why I thought the position of Executive Director was created - so hopefully what I believed was the vision will meet the reality.
What makes me write all of this is stuff written in the press release like -
"The numbers of animals that we are seeing this year is incredibly high, with dozens of phone calls coming in each day at the shelter with people looking to bring in both owned and stray animals and unfortunately we can't even come close to meeting the demand," says Shelter Director Sandra Flemming. The Metro Shelter is also concerned with disease control and the stress that a full shelter has on the animals in their care. "With this many animals, it becomes more difficult to care for them and disease outbreaks become more common, which is what we are seeing now."
"Since we don't euthanize for kennel space or for length of time an animal spends at the shelter, we can only accept new animals in the building as other animals are adopted and a kennel is freed up. We are proud of the fact that we only euthanize in situations where an animal is too aggressive to be adopted or we are medically unable to treat the animal but this means that it limits how many animals we can help," says Flemming."
If the shelter actively worked at adopting animals out - there would be more cage space - and that's what the shelter needs to start working at, is looking at things like that - and they also (in people like mine's opinions) need to start looking at things like adoption coordinators who work with potential adopters to make sure that good fits are being made with animals and adopters - that actual home visits are made.
I have been in the shelter and have seen staff talk to potential adopters about dogs and heard them say "all the dogs have been temperament tested" - and it was like she was telling them that because the dogs were temperament tested they had no issues and were good to go behaviour wise - which we all know in some cases is not the case.
So successful adoptions is a many pronged event that needs to be taken seriously on all sides. And (I'll say it again) - now that the new Executive Director is in place - hopefully these issues can now be looked at.
And herein stops my sermon for tonight.