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A round-up of fun, inspiring news tidbits from the animal welfare world.

From Animal Sheltering magazine January/February 2016

Pictured with Ruby (left) and Alexis, stray cat Max was taken in by Ruby’s mother after being hit by a car. Pets for Life covered the cost of amputating his shattered leg, as well as basic veterinary care.Humane Alliance veterinary staff prepare a shelter dog for surgery.

Pets for Life Reaches a Milestone

Usher and Barbara Stovall first encountered Pets for Life (PFL) a few years ago, when outreach teams began knocking on doors in their Atlanta neighborhood. The couple had adopted a puppy whose previous owner couldn’t keep her, and after chatting with staff from PFL, the Stovalls signed Peggy up for a spay surgery, vaccinations and weekly PFL training classes. Over the years, outreach team members checked in, watching “little” Peggy grow into a big girl.

Recently, Barbara called PFL to share that Usher had passed away. She told staff how much she missed him, and how Peggy was helping her cope with her grief. Barbara has a hard time getting around with Peggy on her own—so PFL made a house call with a veterinarian who updated Peggy’s vaccinations.

Showing up and coming back: That’s how PFL builds trust, and how, one by one, it has now served 100,000 pets over three years.

PFL outreach teams go door-to-door, putting down roots in neighborhoods where pet care services are unaffordable or difficult to obtain. In neighborhoods where 9 out of 10 pets are unaltered and many people are unfamiliar with pet care services, staff and volunteers build relationships the old-fashioned way—by knocking on doors and talking with people.

Through this ongoing outreach, teams bring spay/neuter, vaccinations, training, pet supplies and more to underserved communities.

Team members carefully maintain community databases, which means they can point to their conversion rate—the number of unaltered pets staff meet who are subsequently spayed/neutered—as a marker of their success. In 2012, the conversion rate was a solid 58 percent, but by 2014 it had risen to 78 percent. Their completion rate—the number of scheduled spay/neuter surgeries that result in completed surgeries—has always hovered around 90 percent.

“Once someone says yes to spay/neuter, then that’s all they have to do,” says Amanda Arrington, HSUS’s Pets for Life director. “The rest is on us. If that means transporting, if that means rescheduling appointments and times, if that means calling people, we really take that on.”

The HSUS runs PFL programs in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago—“we’re continuously learning from those communities, and we’re able to up our game all the time because of those four,” says Arrington—but the initiative also provides grant funding, hands-on guidance and PFL training to mentorship groups around the country through a partnership with PetSmart Charities.

Outreach teams have even managed to convert community members into team members. Ruby, a longtime PFL client, is now a community outreach event volunteer in Los Angeles. PFL helped Ruby alter all of her cats and dogs—and then, all of her family’s cats and dogs.

When her mother found a gravely injured stray cat, Ruby called PFL staff, and they covered the cost of his amputation surgery and vet care. Three-legged Max is adjusting to life inside with his new family—and, after developing an interest in dog training at PFL classes, Ruby now works as a trainer and groomer at Petco.

“She is just amazing,” says Arrington. “The program has changed the entire trajectory of her life!”

Check out a video featuring some of PFL’s amazing clients and their pets.

Dogland Delves Into People-Centered Solutions

America has a dog problem, journalist Jacki Skole writes in her memoir/exposé Dogland, and fixing it requires a cultural shift toward helping people and their pets.

Intrigued by her recently adopted puppy’s quirks, Skole traced the dog’s roots, stopping along the way to talk to shelters, advocates and others at the forefront of the pet overpopulation crisis.

Skole highlights the HSUS Pets for Life program for bringing spay/neuter and other services to pet owners in underserved areas, as well as other groups’ efforts to reach out to pet owners who lack resources.

Dogland tackles a complex, emotional topic without chest-thumping and opens readers’ eyes to how we can help these faithful companions.

An Animal Welfare Power Couple

After more than a year of discussing the nitty-gritty, the ASPCA has acquired the Humane Alliance—bringing together North America’s oldest animal protection organization with its largest facilitator of nonprofit spay/neuter surgeries.

Since opening its first, four-person clinic in 1994 and starting its training program in 2005, the Humane Alliance has brought its high-quality, high-volume model to 146 spay/neuter clinics throughout North America, resulting in 4.8 million surgeries through 2014. Via its own clinic, the Asheville, N.C.-based organization has performed more than 362,055 spay/neuter surgeries over the past 20 years.

“This is a relationship that has developed over many years, but it really comes down to two very simple points: shared values and a shared goal of creating a world that is more humane,” Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA, told Asheville’s Citizen-Times.

The ASPCA has provided over $6 million in support to Humane Alliance programs over the last decade; the acquisition is expected to grow the Humane Alliance budget by $1 million annually and its staff by 20 employees.

About the Author

Animal Sheltering is for everyone who cares about the animals in their community—from shelter directors and animal care and control officers to kennel staff, volunteers, and private individuals working as activists, breed rescuers, wildlife rehabbers, veterinarians and more.