I volunteer at our local shelter and need advice on how to help adoptions

  • I volunteer at our local shelter and need advice on how to help adoptions

    Posted by Ayla on May 16, 2023 at 11:38 AM

    Sorry about the length of post.

    Our county shelter is open intake and does not accept surrenders, only strays and Dogs seized. They have about 45 kennels which are always full, sometimes even extra kennel banks in a hallway. The county refuses to hire more staff, and there’s usually only about 1-3 people there able to work Dogs while also cleaning kennels, doing paperwork, and other various duties. The city blew the budget on frivolous things so now we have no budget or support available and the place is falling apart. Due to the blown budget no more staff are on the way, they are not even hiring. We have a small handful of loyal volunteers but they can only come so often. Donations are rare because people like the local Force Free, closed intake shelter so much more, who rarely will help us.

    They stopped allowing people into the adoption kennel area due to Covid. Now because of lack of staff, the design of the kennels allowing hands inside, and other reasons, they still won’t allow people to walk through the adoption kennel area anymore. I offered to help with adoptions or to attend the kennels certain days, but changing anything goes agonizingly slow there.

    From what I know very few Dogs are actually getting adopted. Many have been there weeks or months on end. Rescues pull some, but it tends to be only calmer easy adoptables who have only been there a couple days anyway. We can handle them fine! We desperately need help with our kennel stressed Dogs.

    I want to help, and it benefits me as I love to train and work the Dogs, I used to help train new volunteers at another facility as well and would like to continue.

    In the meantime though it’s breaking my heart to see these previously calmer, happy Dogs now spinning, barking, painting the kennels and themselves in poop, and pulling volunteers like a freight train to the pens while choking and gagging.

    I’m trying my best so far by helping with playgroups so more Dogs can get out at once. The downside is the staff don’t correct the group very well and we have so many headstrong, completely unsocialized, un-neutered, large, Pits, Huskies, or Shepherds. So it goes about how you would expect. If we get a female in, she’s usually in heat, unspayed, or very fearful. I want to introduce some tools and techniques like the clatter stick, but due to the nature of some people, they may not accept any advice on corrections.

    What can I, a broke ass volunteer in her early 20s do to help the most? I managed to get my schedule clear to volunteer three days a week, though it’s hard because I don’t personally have a car and rely on rides or the bus.

    ANY advice is appreciated, especially ways to start learning to help or guide this system. People keep just telling me “Citys broke 🤷‍♀️”, “Vote for better politicians” or others have it worse.

    I’m really enjoying the books “Selling Used Dogs” and “Desperate Dogs Determined Measures” so far! But figured I would ask for advice on this particular subject as well if anyone has it.

    I just don’t want to give up.

    Ana replied 7 months, 1 week ago 7 Members · 10 Replies
  • 10 Replies
  • Gene

    May 17, 2023 at 7:33 AM

    What you need to do is concentrate on the dogs which are highly adoptable now. The volunteers want to Engage with the dogs. You want the dogs to look at you and follow you. With Engagement you are rebuilding the trust factor in humans that the dogs have lost.

    You don’t have to ask the dog for anything at first. Three items I would say to work on are Sit, Down & Recall. Also Leave It if you have the time. Once you have worked with these dogs for a time you can start with the dogs that are becoming stressed time allowing.

    Shelters have been at capacity or near capacity I’d say since September. There is only a certain amount of time one can spend with the dogs during the day so the dogs with the best chance of finding a home have to be prioritized.

    An example would be a dog that is becoming stressed and needs some one on one time. Should a volunteer go work with a dog with a bite history and doesn’t like kids”. (An exaggeration but an example). The way things are now some dogs that may have had a chance a couple years ago now have to be let go. That’s just the reality of the situation.

  • Shawn

    May 17, 2023 at 7:28 PM

    OKAY, I’m just gonna start off by saying this really quick I don’t do punctuation so much, I’m voice dictating this, but I’m sure you’ll understand what I’m saying I will put some punctuation in.
    What I wanna know is the population of your town is there a college nearby what kind of entities are there around there the reason I say These things is you could see if you can put Flyers up at the college in need of people who love dogs but can’t have one right now and would like to work with dogs on a volunteer basis one to two days a week you could also go I know this is gonna sound but there’s a lot of homeless people in this world that are just normal people so if you can put a flyer up at a homeless shelter that says someone who doesn’t do drugs doesn’t drink and gets along with people and especially dogs cuz we need volunteers at the dog shelter something like that if that’s possible if you or you can ask the people who run homeless programs around there they will know who ’cause they deal with those people all the time they will know who would be qualified despite being homeless to do that if there is anybody and who would who would be willing and and love to do that that being said you need to find other places to put up Flyers or make announcements about volunteering at the shelter go to the public public broadcast station in your town and see if they will add you to announcements sometimes like in need nonprofit shelter is always looking for volunteers another one would be seeing if you can put Flyers up at supermarkets wherever you can put them up possible that you could even think of places you would never think of think of just do it and the Flyers can also say on them besides people who love dogs but can’t have dogs right now and they can also say and those of you who who have dogs now could you volunteer one day a week I don’t wanna go on and on but ’cause I can talk a lot i’m sorry as far as the money goes if it is a non profit and you’re allowed to raise money and you can get enough volunteers you can do car washes if you can get some of the local restaurants involved here and there maybe it’s like like let’s say like you got a guy who has a hot dog stand around there if he would do a tax write off and volunteer a whole day to giving hot dogs away to people who get car washes this is only if your place is has enough of a population to do to to achieve that while making money at the same time you can also get the radio stations around there to do a public service announcement possibly I don’t know how you would go about that but you could talk to them and just keep bugging them a squeaky wheel always gets oiled to say there’s got to be some way we can have an announcement once a day during the busiest time of your radio about dog shelter needing donations and most not just donations the announcement could say not just donations but especially we need volunteers to help these dogs become adoptable so I guess I don’t wanna know where you live or anything but if you could tell me where what city this is in I might be able to do some research on how to help you more knowing what you have to work with and where you could find volunteers so let us know that at least what the name of the shelter is and what city it’s in ’cause then I would know what cities are close by that could help you with working something to get donations from people if you’re close to other cities aloha

  • Shawn

    May 17, 2023 at 7:32 PM

    Oh, I forgot to mention I am extra good at researching things especially if I have more to work with in the way of info… etc on the subject at hand I love to research and find knowledge and solutions.

  • Shawn

    May 17, 2023 at 7:35 PM

    Oh, I even have some suggestions on how to get people to do it right which will work with most people. I will get to that after your response to my first answer.

  • Shawn

    May 17, 2023 at 7:37 PM

    What I mean by do it right is to do their duties of volunteering right in how they learn from you.

  • Mike

    May 19, 2023 at 8:23 PM

    Hi Ayla,

    The situation that you are in is tough. I volunteer 5 months out of the year, 6 days a week at various animal shelters. I have been training shelter dogs for about 7 years. I attended Bound Angels in 2019 and have used Robert’s training methods and principles for the entire time.

    There are times when I really have to reset my expectations and restate my objectives to my self. Situations like yours can tend to be overwhelming.

    I subscribe to Robert’s 80/20 percent rule for working with shelter dogs. I focus on the 80% that stand the greatest chance of being adopted with basic work.

    I, realistically, schedule the time I have to work with the dogs, and stick to that. I then assess the needs of the dogs. I start with the basics and build.

    You can not help them all, but you can greatly increase the likelihood of many getting adopted. I have had great success in getting dogs adopted who have been in the shelter for many years. Most just needed some basic training and engagement. (Not bolting through a doorway, sit, stand, down, etc.)

    I try to ignore the politics and operations of the shelter and literally just focus on the issues with the dogs.

    Thanks for being a part of the shelter dog training,


  • Ayla

    May 25, 2023 at 10:50 PM

    Thanks so much everyone for the replies so far! It is incredibly encouraging ❤️ even if it is a hard time for homeless Dogs. I apologize for not replying sooner and will directly reply as well, I had an issue with notifications that should be fixed now. This was a fantastic find after a rough day.

    You all rock ❤️ and Robert is amazing for the movement he has supported in shelter work (And for Dogs everywhere)

    Heres Chandler with a joke for you all.

  • Robert

    July 1, 2023 at 11:50 AM

    lots of great replies here. be patient and remain optimistic. posting pics of. adoptable dogs is always a help. also, try making short videos about the dogs. see if they’ll let you go in and take a dog at a time and make s short video on your phone. edit it and add music. share it on your social with all info and promote the dogs. keep up the great work!

  • Amber

    August 23, 2023 at 8:53 PM

    I think alot of shelter and rescue around are struggling now days. Kentucky and Indiana are at max. I heard shelter in Kentucky had dogs in crates because they don’t won’t to have to euthanasia. I’m lucky I work at a rescue in Indiana and get to be part of helping.

  • Ana

    October 16, 2023 at 8:15 AM

    Hi Ayla,

    You are not alone! I am in Split,Croatia and here in Dalmatia most people don’t think dogs need training but they all want a dog who is well behaved. I am slowly finding people who train their dogs to help run playgroups. I don’t think any shelter has enough money or enough people. It can be discouraging and overwhelming. I can only be the best version of myself and for me that is working with a dog. Stay in communication when things are good and when things are bad.

    “Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.”
    ― Karen Davison

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