It’s the end of December and the end of another year, a time when most of us take a look at our lives and decide what we would like to change. Businesses are no different. Most businesses draft strategic plans that will carry them through the coming months and years. These plans contain the goals of the business which are similar to resolutions.
The ARL has a few resolutions for 2012:
1. Better customer service: As of January 1, we are changing our hours to give you better customer service. In previous years, we had only been open one night a week. Now we will be open two nights, Tuesdays and Thursdays. And we will be opening an hour later in the morning. Why would we do that? For better customer service, that’s why! Presently, we open at 10:00am and the staff is still cleaning the kennels. When customers come through, they are tripping over hoses and walking through puddles. If a customer has a question or wants to take a dog out for a walk, the staff needs to stop cleaning and help the customer. That delays the cleaning process even more and may make the customer feel that they are interrupting the staff member. The later opening time of 11:00am will allow the staff to complete their cleaning procedures.
2. Accommodate more animals: Effective in January, the ARL will no longer be offering boarding services for dogs and cats. We will now be using the extra space to accommodate more dogs. The old boarding area will be used as an intake and holding area for incoming dogs. Boarding will be available still for anyone with emergencies such as weather events or urgent personal situations.
3. Staff training: The ARL has plans to rotate the kennel staff so that everyone knows each others’ jobs. Previously, kennel techs were either in the dog area or cat area. Now they will be trained in all areas.
4. Spay and neuter: The ARL has plans to spay and neuter as many pets as possible before they are adopted. This will help with the overpopulation issue, will reduce the need for our staff to follow up with adopters to ensure that they keep their spay or neuter appointments, and of course, will eliminate the need for customers to bring their pets back to the shelter to be spayed or neutered.
These are just a few of our resolutions for 2012. Now, how about you? Do you have any resolutions to help your pets and to prevent pets from becoming homeless? May we give some suggestions?
1. Be a foster home: The ARL’s Grey Muzzle Foster Program has helped over 300 pets find permanent homes. We are always looking for more foster homes.
2. Microchip and ID your pets: Sadly, many pets are lost and end up in shelters because their owners neglected to get them microchipped and place an ID tag on their collars.
3. License: All dogs must be licensed per Pennsylvania law, but more than that, a license is yet another way to identify your dog and help him find his way home should he get lost.
4. Spay and neuter: Do we need to say any more? All pets must be spayed and neutered so that they are not producing more pets that may end up in shelters.
5. Current on vaccines: Are your pets up-to-date on their vaccines? All dogs and inside cats must be vaccinated against rabies, per PA law and for theirs and your safety.
6. Address behavior issues now before they become a problem: So many dogs and cats are turned into shelters for behavior problems that could have been resolved if help was obtained before the problem became too unmanagable. The ARL has lists of trainers that you can call for help. And all adopters are entitled to attend the BARC dog training classes offered at the ARL for a low cost.
7. Donate to the ARL: Your time or money or items from the wish list all help us in our mission to help as many animals as possible.
Happy New Year to everyone. Thank you for all you do to help the ARL and the animals.
The Animal Rescue League is not just a collection of buildings that house homeless animals. It’s a staff of caring people (paid and volunteer) who are a part of the community – your community of Berks County and surrounding areas. We work very hard to develop and sustain relationships with you, the residents who we serve and your pets, the officials of the municipalities and the business owners. Building and maintaining these relationships takes hard work and the ARL staff strives to do just that by reaching out to you in many ways.
In addition to providing the invaluable services of animal control, cruelty investigations and adoptions, the ARL strives to touch you through other avenues. Facebook has become a necessary way for the ARL to not only inform you of the happenings at the ARL but a way to share our lives. You see what’s going on with us and you tell us what’s up in with you and your pets! We invest a great deal of time and effort in the relationships we’ve made through Facebook. If you haven’t liked us on Facebook, please do so! And don’t look now but Twitter may be coming soon too!
Fundraising is another way that the ARL builds relationships with the community. We can’t adequately express our gratitude to the many people who pitch in and hold events for us or who attend and staff our events. Others who see the dedication are inspired by the team spirit, which is contagious and encourages people to join in or plan their own activities to help the animals.
Our greatest joy comes from witnessing the unselfish efforts of children to help the ARL and the animals. From the groups of school kids who do donation drives, to the individual child who foregoes birthday presents so that donations can be sent to the ARL, we cherish these relationships and are always looking to find ways to reach out to the children. They are the community of the future who will take the ARL forward one day.
Of course, anyone who stops into the ARL immediately becomes part of our community, and we hope to nourish those relationships too. We are working to do all that we can to ensure your experience at the ARL is a positive one. But like all relationships, there can be bumps in the road and unfortunately when the staff is faced with the stress of dealing with large numbers of unwanted or abused pets, that stress can impact their relationships with our customers. We hope that you understand and know that we are aware of how our actions can impact the relationships with you.
Lastly, the ARL wants to build relationships with the pets in our community. By encouraging spay and neuter, offering low-cost vaccine clinics, dog training classes, advice through this blog, and other information, we hope to keep your pets happy, safe and healthy with their homes.
Relationships take time, commitment and patience and we at the ARL believe that our involvement with the community is the best relationship for helping the animals.
It’s oh-so-tempting to purchase a cute little puppy, kitten or even an adult pet for someone for a holiday gift. The movies and TV glamorize the magic of opening a wrapped present that is mewing, crying or moving and then, voila! It’s a pet! In reality, giving someone a pet as a gift is not a good idea. In order for it to be an appropriate gift, you must know if the person really wants a pet, can properly take care of it and is allowed to have one if they rent their home. And the choice of pets is such a personal thing. While you may prefer cats, that person may be partial to dogs or even bunnies or guinea pigs. While you may love long-haired cats, your friend may have always wanted a little mutt who resembles the dog he or she had as a child. I’m willing to bet that my friends and family have no idea that I’d love to have a guinea pig! (But I can’t have one right now because my dog would not like it, so no gifts please!)
Instead of the gift of a pet, how about giving a gift certificate to an animal shelter with a note that you will accompany the “giftee” to pick out a pet of their choice? Or if your friend cannot have a pet, how about sending a donation to the ARL in honor of your friend? We will publish their name on our web site!
If you really want a pet for yourself and your family at holiday time, remember that your pet will need time to become acclimated to you and your home. It isn’t fair to bring a new pet home and then have you leave to attend holiday parties and other holiday activities. Even worse, if your household is crazy-busy, a new pet will be overwhelmed and may not be on his best behavior. A new pet requires time and patience – they do not automatically know how to live in your home. They will require guidance and training.
When you decide to get a new pet, it’s best to be prepared. First, get your house pet-ready, that is, keep valuables out of reach, ensure that your doors, windows and fencing are secure so that your new friend cannot escape, and make sure that potentially poisonous items such as cleaning supplies are put away. Then you will want to buy supplies for your pet – good food and treats, bedding, collars/leashes, and gates in the case that you need to block your new pet in certain rooms.
We at the ARL would love to see all of the pets have a home for Christmas! But only if they are going to homes that will properly care for them and pay attention to their needs. Happy holidays, everyone!
Have you ever found a stray? Most of us in our lifetime will come upon a dog who doesn’t seem to have a home. It used to be common that when a stray dog followed you home, you would keep it. Simple as that. The movie “Old Yeller” is a good example as well as so many anecdotes about dogs following little boys home. Instead of turning the dog into a shelter that is already overcrowded, would you be tempted to keep a dog if you found one? Before you do, consider the possibilities.
First of all, the dog’s owner may be looking for him (we hope). Check the dog for identification. If it has a collar and ID tag, then you are obligated to call the owner. If there is no ID tag but the dog has a rabies tag, then you can call the veterinarian’s office and find the owner. This happened to me once and I was quickly able to track down the dog’s owner.
If the dog is not wearing a collar, he could be microchipped. The only way to determine this is to take the dog to a veterinarian or the nearest shelter to have them scan for the chip. If the dog has a microchip, then you must surrender the dog to the shelter. His owner could be looking for him. If you really would like to keep the dog, tell the shelter to call you once the holding period is up and the owner has not claimed him. Make sure that you call the shelter immediately to ensure that the dog does not get euthanized due to lack of space.
If you cannot find any identification for the dog, the kind thing to do is to try to find the owner. File a lost dog report with all nearby shelters and rescue groups. You can also place flyers around the neighborhood and even put a listing on Craigslist and post on Facebook. You can also look in the newspapers and on Craigslist for lost dog reports.
If no owner turns up, then you are faced with the decision to try to find the dog a home yourself or keep him. Yes, it can be work to try to place a dog in a home but it’s well worth the effort and who knows, you may start your own mini-rescue group!
No matter if you keep the dog, find its owner, or find the dog a new home, you are saving this dog’s life and maybe another dog’s life who doesn’t have to be euthanized due to overcrowding. If everyone could take the time and effort to help our strays, the burden will be lessened for the shelters.
The animal lovers in this country were stunned this week to learn that President Obama signed a law, HR 2112, that may change the lives of unwanted horses in the U.S. Also known as the Spending Bill, HR 2112 allocates funding in 2012 for several federal departments and agencies, including the Department of Agriculture (USDA). Also in this bill, the ban on U.S. slaughterhouses was lifted. In 2006, Congress "prohibited the use of federal funds to inspect horses destined for food, effectively prohibiting domestic slaughter" according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). So now that the ban on slaughterhouses has been lifted, the USDA will be responsible for finding funding to inspect any slaughterhouses that will now pop up – but no funding was specifically allocated in HR 2112 to this function.
The subject of horse slaughter in the U.S. is highly controversial, with the two top animal welfare organizations holding opposing views. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is solidly against U.S. slaughterhouses, and much of the money donated to them was used to lobby for the closing of slaughterhouses beginning in 2007. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), on the other hand, are not opposed to U.S. slaughterhouses. They contend that when the U.S. closed their slaughterhouses, the horses didn’t stop being slaughtered. Instead, the horses are packed into trailers and hauled for days to Canada or Mexico where horse slaughter is legal. The horses are denied food and water and suffer terribly on these treks. These are known facts. Regardless of our personal opinions about either the HSUS or PETA, both organizations have valid points.
One Congressman supported the lift on the ban by saying that by bringing the slaughterhouses back to the U.S., the USDA will be able to ensure humane conditions. Reportedly, Mexican slaughterhouses are horrific and often butcher the animals before they are dead. Personally, if the USDA oversees the slaughterhouses like they do the puppy mills, the horses will not be ensured humane treatment.
But the bottom line is this: where can unwanted horses go? The thoroughbred racing industry breeds a tremendous number of horses to find only a few champions that will make them money. The rest are discarded. The lucky few go to rescue groups and the rest go to slaughter. And working horses used by Amish and other farming communities suffer a similar fate. They are auctioned off, killed by their owners or sold to slaughter.
Money is a huge issue. Currently, horses are not worth too much for slaughter due to the costs to ship them to Canada or Mexico. But if slaughterhouses reopen in the U.S., the horses will probably command more because the profit margin will be higher. As a result, when horses go to auction, the people buying them for slaughter will certainly be able to outbid the rescue groups.
This problem is bigger than our community – it’s a nationwide issue. And it’s not just about horses. It’s about the way that we value (or don’t value) all animals. We do have a voice, however. Let our elected officials know how we feel about legislation that affects the animals.