This post is in honor of Blog the Change for Animals. Amy Burkert and I, as your BTC4Animals.com co-founders, took specific action on behalf of animals this month to inspire our readers to do the same. This is my story…
THE MAN WITH THE MOST ADOPTIONS WINS
If the Helen Woodward Animal Center (HWAC) sounds like just another animal rescue, think again.
The Center spans 12 acres and boasts an animal adoption facility with record adoption numbers, Club Pet Boarding, the Rancho Santa Fe Equine Hospital, children’s camps and education programs, therapeutic riding, pet encounter therapy, and more.
How on Earth do they do all this?
Mike Arms, President of HWAC, will tell you.
He’s giving away his secrets for free!
IT’S ALL ACES. IT’S ALL GOOD!
The Animal Center Education Services (ACES) workshop in Santa Fe, California shares how to best design, build, fund raise, and run an animal rescue. People come from all over the world to learn about, in the words of Mr. Arms, “The Business of Saving Lives.”
I flew from New York and met folks from as far as Newfoundland, Canada and Sydney, Australia in the March session. I can’t recommend this course highly enough and, if you sign up, this is just a smidge of what you’ll get …
DO WHAT THE MAN SAYS OR HE’LL MAKE YOU CRY
Mike doesn’t believe that animals need our hearts. They have those already and still we kill nearly 4 million in the US each year. What the animals need are our minds, minds actively thinking on their behalf, marketing them in direct competition with those pet stores fueling the root of animal overpopulation.
Proving the “mind over heart matters” theory, Mike pulled a letter from his pocket and handed it to my fellow student, Sherri Franklin from Muttville.org. He asked her to read it. The letter was written from the point of view of a confused and lonely animal being put down after being surrendered by his family. (The other letter I’ve seen him use is worse.) There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when she finished.
Mike turned to us and said, “I told you. I knew I already had your hearts,” and from that moment on, we were eager to make the difference – with our minds as engaged as our emotions.
HE TELLS YOU GOOD THINGS TOO
Where would you list an adoption center in the Yellow Pages? No, don’t call it a shelter! According to Mike, shelters are where people surrender pets more often than look for them. That said, you list yourself under pet shops. There you’ll be seen by that family ready to get their son a dog for his birthday.
And don’t devalue your animals with giveaways or discounts. Charge an adoption fee on par with market value, otherwise, you’re just telling people you have cheap, bargain basement animals. Who wants that?
Here’s a bit more of Mike’s wisdom from a subsequent conference…
LET THEM THROW THE BOOK AT YOU
Being met with a 3-inch thick binder was both daunting and reassuring. While we had a lot to learn, I breathed a sigh of relief the moment I realized that I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. It was being handed directly to us (and it was about as heavy as one too).
The 12 STEP RECOVERY PROGRAM
In order to ween us from our traditional rescue ideas, ideas that simply do not work, a parade of friendly and knowledgeable staffers imparted upon us their wisdom in the following areas:
- Creating a Board of Directors
- Managing Volunteers
- Education Programs
- Pet Encounter Therapy
- Human Resources
- Hosting Special Events
- and Public Relations/Social Media
By the end of the program, we were cured of habitual thinking. We were inspired, exuberant and – with graduation plaques in hand – we returned to our lives with a new enthusiasm. We are now prepared to transform the world of animal adoption. And if we ever need help or have a question, every single staff member said to call any time. (Good thing. I couldn’t fit them in my suitcase with that binder.)
WANT TO RESCUE ANIMALS?
I hope this post inspires you to learn about animal rescue from the best – for free. (I’ll continue writing about several of the programs, if you’d like to know more.)
I know I said Mike makes you cry, but don’t let that dissuade you. He makes you cry happy tears too.
It was difficult to part from the fire which burns so brightly within the entire staff at the Helen Woodward Animal Center. But, as students, if we don’t move on and carry that flame forward, we do a great disservice to those who so graciously showed us the way.
You will always be in my heart and your love for animals now reaches farther than you will ever know. Thank you for all you have shared.