An animal welfare professional’s typical day includes unparalleled joy and heart-wrenching despair, often in equal measure. The burnout is real but it’s the hard-won progress that sustains us.
The Best Friends Podcast brings you stories from the front lines of lifesaving. You’ll hear from leading experts on topics that impact all of us. These are stories that matter to shelters, rescue groups, and the animal welfare organizations that enable their service to a community and its animals. These are stories for all of us.
What’s the data telling us about shelter adoptions?
It’s been a challenging year for animal shelters and rescue organizations across the country. Lifesaving gains made during the COVID pandemic seemed to disappear for many as a new set of external factors played havoc with the animal welfare industry.
Those lifesaving gains certainly seemed to disappear, but did they? Anecdotal stories from scores of individual organizations say some version of the same thing; that intake is up, and positive outcomes are down. Many say that adopters are simply not coming into their facilities as they have in the past, and there are more requests for help with pet relinquishment than ever. But what does the data show?
This week we hear from the Senior Director of Lifesaving Programs at Best Friends, Brent Toellner. He analyzed the numbers from hundreds of organizations to put our current reality in perspective.
For more resources related to this topic and others discussed this week, check out the website: https://network.bestfriends.org/proven-strategies/best-friends-podcast/best-friends-podcast-ep-135
Check out Brent's editorial that has the numbers and more details talked about in today's episode: https://network.bestfriends.org/proven-strategies/editorials/reality-todays-shelter-struggles
The next Best Friends National Adoption weekend is happening December 9th through the 11th, and the registration period is closing soon. Get your organization registered right now: https://network.bestfriends.org/join-us/events/best-friends-national-adoption-event
Share your experience with us! Is your intake up or down? What about your adoptions, are folks still coming in to find their next pet? Send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Veteran's Day w/ Dogs on Deployment
Tomorrow is Veteran's Day, so we're taking a moment to thank all members of the military, active duty and veteran, for their service. We're also using this as an opportunity to learn more about Dogs on Deployment, one of our Best Friends Network partners whose work directly impacts those who are and have served the nation.
Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say, and that was the case with the nonprofit organization Dogs on Deployment.
President and co-founder Alisa Johnson joined the Marine Corps in 2011, serving ten years as a KC-130J pilot. Her husband Shawn, also a pilot (in the US Navy), found themselves struggling to find options for the care of their dog JD during months-long deployments. After ruling out expensive options like boarding and professional dog sitters, they found a family member who agreed to care for JD for the six months Alisa was training at Quantico. An ideal situation, but no doubt a lucky one.
They wondered how many other service members find themselves in that same predicament. What about those who don't have family able to help? What happens to those pets?
DoD's nationwide network of patriotic foster homes ensures the human-animal bond stays intact when a military pet owner answers the call of duty. Over the years, the organization's work has grown to support veterans and first responders, not only with temporary fostering.
If your work involves keeping pets and pet owners together, this is one resource you will want to have in your arsenal.
Check out more on The Best Friends Podcast website: https://network.bestfriends.org/proven-strategies/best-friends-podcast/best-friends-podcast-ep-134
A radical transformation at the York County SPCA
When the York County SPCA (YCSPCA) hired a new executive director at the end of 2019, it set in motion plans to transform how the organization operated. To reach and sustain a 90% save rate of animals coming into the shelter, Steven Martinez knew success in his new role would require executing an audacious strategic plan focused on five pillars of change.
By overhauling the IT infrastructure, implementing a community cat program, revamping the adoption processes, and improving internal and external communications, the YCSPCA proved that going big isn’t just a bold strategy - it can be a winning one.
This week we hear from Steven about the last three years as he shares what he feels were the keys to their success and his advice about how your organization can go about its radical transformation.
Send us an email: email@example.com
Read more about the transformation in this week's program spotlight on the Best Friends Network website: https://bit.ly/3eKwu1xWatch the video of Steven's presentation at the 2022 Best Friends National Conference on youtube: https://bit.ly/3VIXNKrDownload a PDF version of the presentation slide deck: https://bit.ly/3MN5xa6The Best Friends National Conference is happening Aug 10-12 in Houston, Texas: https://bit.ly/3LhDUVTFor more resources, check out this episode on The Best Friends Podcast website: https://bit.ly/3VH6KUy
You know those super viral animal-related articles you see all your friends sharing on your social media feeds? You know the ones. Headlines like this one on TODAY.com, “couple creates humongous bed so they can sleep comfortably with eight rescue dogs.” What about this story on The Dodo, “pit bull obsessed with cats gets his litter of kittens.”
This week’s guest wrote those and hundreds of other articles during her time as the animal welfare editor at The Huffington Post and as a freelance journalist. Arin Greenwood's work has told the stories of hundreds of people and their pets and the inspiring work of animal shelters and rescue organizations worldwide. However, her work isn’t all stories about dogs riding one-eyed ponies in the middle of the night (yes, that is real). One of her pieces in The Washington Post helped elevate the conversation around arbitrarily stringent adoption policies.
She’s moved on from her role at The Huffington Post, but she continues to write about animal welfare, and her most recent novel, Your Robot Dog Will Die, has received acclaim from critics (and, if all goes well, it may be coming soon to the small screen!).
This week we learn more about Arin and her career as a journalist and writer, both on and offline. She also shares many tips on writing compelling stories of your own and creating and maintaining relationships with journalists.
Read the wrap-up of the incredibly successful national adoption weekend event in September: https://network.bestfriends.org/proven-strategies/program-spotlights/most-successful-adoption-weekend-yet
Register your network partner organization to take part in the next adoption weekend event taking place in December: https://network.bestfriends.org/join-us/events/best-friends-national-adoption-event
For more resources related to this topic, check out our website: bestfriends.org/podcast
Managing our mental health
The field of animal welfare can be physically and mentally grueling. At times, it may feel like there is no end in sight with so many requests for help. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, not every story has a happy ending.
The data backs up our feelings about how hard this work is on our mental health. For example, a 2015 study showed the suicide rates for animal welfare workers to be the highest among all professions - including law enforcement.
Thankfully, there are effective strategies to help you manage the challenging emotions that inevitably come with doing this work.
Elizabeth Fagan is a psychotherapist who works with companies and nonprofits, including animal welfare agencies, to help their staff manage trauma experienced while on the job. She joins us this week to help us understand more about how the rigors of animal welfare work impact us and what we can do about it.
Check out The Best Friends Podcast website for resources mentioned in today's episode and more: https://network.bestfriends.org/proven-strategies/best-friends-podcast/best-friends-podcast-ep-131
What "The Real Housewives" can teach us about shelter management
When looking for practical tips and inspiration to help you save lives, chances are you’ve never sought out reality television for answers. But according to this week’s guest, animal welfare professionals can learn much from "The Real Housewives."
Makena Yarbrough is not only the Senior Director of Lifesaving Programs at Best Friends, but she’s also a self-professed superfan of the reality TV franchise. Using the show as inspiration, she created a presentation for the 2022 Best Friends National Conference that points out that a lot of the struggles in the show are things we face every day.
If you are in an area affected by Hurricane Ian and need help, or if you are outside of the area and able to help, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For resources on today's topic, guest bios, and more, check out the website for The Best Friends Podcast: https://network.bestfriends.org/proven-strategies/best-friends-podcast/best-friends-podcast-ep-130
No kill shelters
I would prefer to have no kill shelters.
My tortie of 10 years passed two weeks ago from cancer.
We rescued her from a shelter and I didn’t know at the time that she was scheduled to be put down in the next week because she had almost been there for the designated amount of weeks allowed before they had to put them down.
The lady even said that she was very used to people and was very kind. She wasn’t wrong. Which brings me back to why I don’t like kill shelters.
Kim was a perfect cat and the fact that she was in the center that long and no one else considered taking her isn’t fair in my eyes.
Many people are probably missing out on the opportunity to be a guardian for amazing cats like Kim.
I guess it’s like my mom says,
“She was meant for me. That’s why she was there for all that time.”
I want others to be able to find the perfect one for them and give them all a fighting chance to do so.
Which is why I am going to adopt another cat in the next few weeks. I just still need to grieve a bit more.
Great podcast for animal lovers
These people do amazing work and everyone should support them!
Great podcast. The host is also there (KIDDING, he’s great!)
Long time first time. I was turned on to this pod by a friend who said I’d love it. I was definitely skeptical at first but it’s really great. The host does a great job of moving the conversation along and he really makes some of these not-at-first-compelling topics really interesting and relatable.
As someone who loves animals but isn’t in the industry I think it’s a great entree into the sometimes wonky world of the professional animal welfare movement.
I’m a fan boy and I’ve now listened to every episode. I only wish there were more stars I could give it