I began a new volunteer job today. I’m the new volunteer coordinator at the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley in Marietta, Ohio. I was delighted to meet with two new members of my S.M.A.R.T. team (Shelter Matchmaker And Rehab Training team) and show them the ropes.

Actually, not so much showing them the ropes as weaving the ropes as we go. Our slightly run-down shelter suffers from lack of community interest and strong management, I’m afraid. Two weeks ago canine and feline disease was too common, animals were surrendered and sent straight to adoption rooms instead of being tested for or vaccinated for common diseases.

We’re all excited at the changes implemented last week. Instead of signing a form promising to spay/neuter the pet they’re adopting, adopters complete their paperwork and pay a reduced rate for their pet, the shelter transports the dog or cat to a local veterinary office where they are given a wellness check and have their neutering surgery. Adopters pick their pet up at the vet’s office and are responsible for the cost of the surgery.

Even more exciting is this week’s change! A month ago the shelter was filled, with 50% of the animals sick with one or more common shelter illnesses. As of this morning all kennels have a wellness card attached so staff are able to note changes in the health of the occupant. Items such as “not eating,” “worms in feces,” “vomiting,” can be checked off.  And, when informed that a dog was coughing, shelter staff arrived with meds for kennel cough. I’m giddy with delight at these improvements.

These changes have nothing to do with me except I put the ex-volunteer coordinator (Marietta’s Jane Snell) in touch with the president of another local shelter (Parkersburg’s Carrie Roe) and we discussed possible improvements. Then, suddenly and without warning, the ex-volunteer coordinator was voted in as president and I was sucked into the volunteer coordinator’s job by the vaccum created after the elections. Guess I was standing a little too close. <g>

Most dogs are surrendered at shelters because of behavior problems. If we can correct the behavior we can solve the problem. My goal is that every adopted dog from our shelter stay in the home of their adopter because they are a treasured member of the family. This can only happen if we, as dog lovers and trainers, support the adopters and assist them with the transition they’ll have once they bring their pet home.

My shelter package of 2 Minute Dog Trainer brochures is available at our webstore. It allows you, the purchaser, to print originals and affix a label providing adopters with information on your dog training business. I hope this helps shelters make training information readily available. I also hope this gets used as a marketing piece for local dog trainers. I figure that even the least motivated pet owner can manage 2 minutes a day.

I feel as if I did a good thing today and that good thing made the whole day worthwhile. Oh yeah, and I helped a gentleman find a shelter dog to replace the aged dog he lost in October. The dog he chose was a nice 2-year-old rottie mix with a peaceful temperament. That was worthwhile as well.

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