Here’s a story about somebody in Miami who found a lost dog. The family liked the dog and they were interested in keeping the dog, but they also recognized that somebody might be looking for her, so they took her to Miami-Dade Animal Services (MDAS). So far, there’s nothing overly unusual about this story.
But here’s where it gets interesting…
When the family explained their interest, a quick-thinking staff member recognized that the family was sincere and fully capable of helping the agency and the animal. So the family was enlisted as a foster family for this dog. The dog was photographed and ID’d in order to get her into the MDAS lost and found system, but rather than spending a week in the shelter where she’d be exposed to loads of stress and potentially disease while she waited either for reclaim or for her new family, the dog went right back out the front door with her new foster family. It took this staff member a bit more time to work this out than it would have taken to just admit the dog and put her in the stray kennels according to normal procedure. Smart! This resolution is better for the dog, better for the other dog(s) in need of shelter, and way better for this family who are now part of the safety net for animals in the community—and happily so.
“This resolution is better for the dog, and way better for this family who are now part of the safety net for animals in the community.”
This is what happens when staff and volunteers are empowered
This kind of smart thinking is only possible when agency leadership ensures that staff and volunteers are clear on the agency mission and priorities, and have been trained to use good critical thinking skills to solve problems. Sometimes I’m tempted to cringe at the term “empowerment” because it seems to be overused, but this is one instance where it seems like the perfect word. MDAS empowers their staff to solve problems and save lives, resulting in more than 2,000 additional pets finding homes this year.
Can your staff do that?
Bert Troughton, MSW
ASPCA Senior Vice President, Animal Health Services
Bert Troughton joined the ASPCA in 2003 after 9 years as CEO of Monadnock Humane Society in New Hampshire and 10 years as a clinical social worker in community mental health. Past president of both the New Hampshire and New England Federations of Humane Societies, Troughton is a guest blogger on human dynamics in animal welfare and the author of the chapter on working with adopters in Animal Behavior for Shelter Veterinarians and Staff.
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