Earlier this month, our shelter manager and I attended the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators (SAWA) annual management conference in Detroit, MI where we learned how to improve our current practices to better manage our time and productivity, deal with emergencies and the emotional side of this business, and to prevent burnout by staying in touch with the reason we came into this line of work to begin with: the love of animals and the desire to give them a better future.
We also had the opportunity to network with colleagues from all across the country and learn from their experiences, their successes and their failures. One thing almost everyone could attest to was that positive change, and progress is being noticed in animal shelters and clinics country-wide.
Some shelters are reporting a lower number of pets being surrendered by their owners for behavioral reasons and others are reporting a reduced number of homeless pets in their communities. Both decreases, we assume, are due to information and resources about training and spay/neuter reaching a wider audience than in years past.
Due to these subtle decreases in intake, a movement toward more services for owned animals is beginning to occur. Services like expanded, affordable veterinary care, training classes and behavioral advice, all in an effort to keep the animals who have homes, stay in those homes and out of shelters.
This is very positive progress. However, here in SC, we are still seeing plenty of homeless pets come through our doors, especially cats and kittens right now, so we will continue to focus on our mission of providing shelter and care to adoptable pets, educating the public about the proper care and treatment of animals, supporting efforts to combat animal abuse and providing quality, affordable spay and neuter services to the public.
In addition to our core mission though, we are also offering more services to people who already own pets, so that we don't see those pets come through our shelter doors in the future.
One of those services is our Phideaux University training program. This fun, affordable and very effective program offers classes that are age-specific and address the unique challenges owners face at every stage of a dog's development to help them be happier, more confident family dogs. You can learn more and sign up at www.LetLoveLive.org/training or call the trainer, Trish Wamsat at 803-574-DOGS (3647).
And then there is our expanded veterinary care. We still offer low-cost spay/neuter and vaccination services to the public, but now our Veterinary Care Center is completely full-service, offering wellness exams, medical treatments, emergency care, x-rays, dental care and more.
The exam prep and surgery areas of our current Spay/Neuter Clinic were designed to be state-of-the-art and to accommodate high-volume spay and neuter surgeries. This design however does accommodate private consultation and exam areas for the veterinarian and pet owner to communicate.
So now we are expanding the current Spay/Neuter Clinic into our garage area. Three private exam rooms will be built to make room for the many pet owners coming to us for regular veterinary care. A separate garage is being built adjacent to our main facility for storage needs.
Our Veterinary Care Center has two veterinarians on staff and a full support team, all passionate pet people themselves, here to offer you and your pet quality, affordable veterinary care. The Center is open Tuesday - Saturday from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm for walk-ins and Saturdays from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm. Spay/neuter surgeries must be scheduled in advance by calling 803-648-6863, ext 1. You can find more information and prices at www.LetLoveLive.org/vetcare.
This progress would not be possible without the support and cooperation we receive from our animal-loving community and we hope that you will continue to stand by us as we strive for positive animal welfare change.
Sarah Neikam is the Marketing Director for the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. She is an Aiken native and has been with the SPCA since 2012. Sarah lives in Graniteville with her husband, Tom, mother, Cheryl and three adopted cats: Bastian, Luna and Grady.