Are you becoming immersed in a world of zoom meetings? FaceTime calls? Messenger chat groups? These words were not even in my vocabulary just four months ago! But like everyone else who is trying to maintain contact and connections with friends, family and business partners, these have become the new essential tools. I’ve found at work that there’s now a group with regular meetings for everything! A weekly national shelter director’s meeting, a California shelter director’s meeting and a north bay shelter director’s meeting – how much can you connect! And suddenly everyone is producing webinars and YouTube training videos.
In a way this is fabulous. If you can’t make it at the scheduled time, they are usually available for viewing for a while afterwards so you can watch when it’s convenient rather than rearranging your schedule to accommodate a meeting. It’s nice too that you can share it with others so if there is a particularly good training, I can have all the staff watch it as well.
I just spent a couple days attending the national Humane Society of the United States Animal Care Expo. Virtually. Which was actually pretty exciting! I wasn’t planning to go since it was being held across the country and with travel, hotel and food expenses plus the registration cost, it was more than my budget could afford. But holding it virtually made it so affordable that both our vet tech and I were able to enroll. It was a first for HSUS to produce a completely virtual Expo including break-out sessions, an exhibit section and networking chat rooms. There’s something to be said for being in a room with hundreds of other people who understand the challenges and issues surrounding your job and the face-to-face networking opportunities that an actual conference gives you, but this certainly opened the opportunity to many more people. I hope in the future they do a combo of the two. Those that are close enough or can afford the time and travel can attend in person, but for small shelters, or those far away, it should be available online.
It was interesting to hear about some of the new programs and ideas that others have come up with. It’s also reassuring to know how much we are doing right. Low-cost spay/neuters for cats? Check – we offer our free Fix-it clinic. Promote microchips to increase return to owner rates? Check – we offer them free to our residents through the generous support of the Animal Shelter League. Pet food support for those struggling economically? Check – we have a free Pet Food Pantry and also partner with the Living Room (a woman’s shelter) to provide pet food to those in need. Portals in the cat cages to reduce stress? Check – our adoption cages all have two-way portals and we just purchased the materials to cut the pass-thru’s on all our back cages (not installed yet). Offer veterinary support to those in need? Check – we have Silver Paws that offers veterinary care assistance to low-income seniors and we try to do at least two wellness clinics annually in low-income areas of our community. They don’t cover everyone in need, but it’s a start!
I’m signed up for two different dog handling series of webinars in August. It’s exciting all the topics that are available. In fact it’s a bit overwhelming! Some days it feels like I’ve been glued to the computer all day. Thank goodness I have a standing desk! We are so lucky to have this technology while we are sheltering-in-place. It gives you a way to stay connected which is so important when you are feeling isolated. Hope you are taking advantage of these opportunities too! Happy skyping!
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at email@example.com.