FAQ Book for Volunteers

A forum for dog and cat adoption team members

Re: FAQ Book for Volunteers

Postby aplappert on Thu Oct 30, 2008 7:33 pm

Excellent stuff, you guys. I'm already up to 7 pages of my Volunteer Training Manual. With all of the questions and issues that have been addressed throughout this thread, I started to think that this FAQ book would serve better as a self-learning training manual. Once complete, I'm thinking i might create a bunch and have them available for folks to take home. I'll keep a master copy at the shelter, too, but there is a lot of info contained in it already and i've only just started the Dog Adoption Team section. I have a LOT more to do, but once it's finished, I feel it will be an asset to each volunteer. Of course, it will also need to be reviewed by shelter staff before final publication.
Thanks to all of you for your input and please continue to send your thoughts to me. Also, several of you have offered answers to questions and so I've taken most of it and inserted it verbatim! Thanks!!!
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CAT CUDDLERS/Cat Adoption Team + FAQ book

Postby aplappert on Fri Oct 31, 2008 2:55 pm

Okay everyone, what are the "rules of engagement" for cat cuddling and for the Cat Adoption Team? Let me know all the details from hours of operation to getting cats out of the cages to the "no-no's" of cat cuddling if there are any. I'm starting the cat cuddling and Adoption Team member section of the volunteer training manual.

Here are a few questions to get you started:
1. What is the criteria for an adopter to be approved to adopt?
2. What is the adoption process?
3. Can a cat do a sleep over?
4. What are the duties and responsibilities of a cat adoption team member (or cat cuddler)?
5. What kind of questions can one expect to encounter as a cat cuddler or cat adoption team member?

Your help is appreciated!!
A world full of animals to help and only one lifetime in which to do it!
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Re: FAQ Book for Volunteers

Postby aplappert on Fri Oct 31, 2008 3:28 pm

kathryn wrote:
Also, what if someone interested in adopting from us has been denied by other groups? I'm having that problem right now. A lady called me up and freely admitted to being denied by SEVERAL other adoption agencies and asked if I could help her get a kitten. I said I'd see what I could do, but that was like a week ago and I still have mixed feelings on that. What do I tell her?

Otherwise, basic training questions for dogs would be nice. I hate when people ask me how to get a dog to do something or how they can train their possible new friend from doing such and such. I really never have an answer!!! I can answer just about anything for cats but dogs are too complicated for me.


Kathryn,
I'm trying to get some clarification for you on the adopter previously denied by other agencies. I'll share it once i get it.

As far as training dogs, i think it's best to tell people that dogs learn best through positive reinforcement training and that a person can easily pick up a DVD on PRT or can enroll in a class. the person should be encouraged to review the class before signing up adn if any mention is made of using correction collars or remote collars, the person should look elsewhere. unfortunately there are a lot of trainers in this area that STILL think a dog should be trained by strapping a correction collar of some sort on the animal. I fell for this with my dog when i got her as a puppy and have since reversed that training and have seen an amazing transformation from a very scared, unconfident dog to a very happy, compliant dog. :) It's a long story that I might share some day, but I understand more than many how damaging any kind of correction training can be to a dog. Please encourage people to find positive reinforcement training classes. Wonder Dogs in Berlin is great. I know we have Canine Dimension pamphlets at the AWA, but I don't know what kind of training they do. i thought i saw something about remote collars in their brochure, but I am going to contact them and talk to them before dismissing them or before marketing them to adopters.
I hope that helps! Training is a LIFELONG commitment and adopters should be made aware of the fact that it's easy enough to do because every time you interact with your dog, you have an opportunity to train that dog! Most people just want a well-behaved dog and training a dog to be that way is actually pretty easy to do. Most don't need a dog to win obedience ribbons (that's one thing i just couldn't get into!), they just want a dog that will mind it's manners when company comes over and when s/he is out in public. This is truly relatively easy to do if a person is willing to spend some time every day interacting with their dog and teaching the dog manners. we can meet up some time and i'll be happy to show you some training techniques if you're interested. it might even work with cats!!! :)
Thanks again for all of your valuable input!!!
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Re: FAQ Book for Volunteers

Postby jessieleighton on Sun Nov 02, 2008 1:21 pm

Wow! Thanks Amy, This is a great idea. I am wondering if this "book" could be available online? Perhaps on this site? That way all new volunteers could read it, it won't get lost, and you could make changes when needed.
All the questions and answers were great! I do wish more people would ask why other orgizations don't do same day adoptions instead of asking us why we do. I have great confidence if our volunteer and paid adoption team. I think everyone would agree that none of us would send home an animal with an adopter they were suspisous of. The counseling of adopters is key to success. An adopter may not know all that we know or have the same emotional attachments we have but in sharing some of our knowledge and stories we open a new door for each new pet.

I think I am asked at least once a week about declawing. The desicion to declaw or not to declaw should be made intelligently, with the advise of a veterinarian. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends declawing only in cases where the cat may loose his home. The veterinarian will also need to take on other considerations such as age, reason for declawing, pain management issues, and other health concerns of the animal. If someone said to me that they were giving up their cat because it was scratching up all the furniture, their marrage was falling apart over it even though they trim the cats nails every two weeks, it continues to damage the home. I would have that cat declawed. If the same people had not tried trimming the cats nails I would suggest that first. To be frank, There are millions of cats dying in shelters that don't need to, so lets try to find great homes for homless pets and leave the medical questions to the veterinarians. If we arm our adopters with tools rather than rules they are far more likely to have a successful relationship.

We adopted a dog last week to two very nice people. They were on the young side(29). They were denied by another group because they did not have a fence and they lived in a condo. They came to me asking if they would be denied by our group as well. I informed them they would not based on that information alone, they would need to fill out an adoption survey. They were matched with a great dog, and before I stuck my foot in my mouth(by writing this) I gave them a call. The dog is doing great, family doing great, they love their new dog walker, and 2 days a week she goes to doggie day care for extra socialization. What more could we ask for? All it took was a simple conversation. The truth is the people weren't denied a dog, the dog was denied a home.

Thank you all for all you are doing to improve the adoption process and the futures of all our homeless critters!
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Re: FAQ Book for Volunteers

Postby mjo on Sun Nov 02, 2008 11:01 pm

Jessie,
Great response! on why we adopt to people others shelters have turned down. I have been a volunteer at AWA for 18 years and have seen many changes. One of the things I respect most about AWA is that we do converse with our adopters.
Amy,
I think the book is a great idea. I am more than willing to help you out with some of your questions. We do have information available in the office about declawing cats, cats that don't use the litterbox, etc. Check with the office staff, you may want to include that info in the book. You probably could just scan it into your computer then our volunteers would have the same info that we give the general public.
FYI for other volunteers,
On Tuesday night I will be dropping off some old editions of DogFancy magazine that another volunteer had. The magazines might be old but they contain alot of info on specific breeds of dogs and other topics. Please help yourself to them.
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Re: FAQ Book for Volunteers

Postby aplappert on Mon Nov 03, 2008 3:57 pm

That is a fantastic idea about posting this online once it's finished. that's exactly what I will do, in addition to having a hard copy at the office.
I will also include the info on declawing, etc, and on Saturday I found the master copy book adn found that we have lots of info available, so I will scan and add to the book. not sure how to post the book to the online forum yet, but i'll figure it out or will bug someone to help me figure it out.
I know that some of the answers will really depend on each situation, but if we at least have a general idea on how to handle situations and questions, while having the support of the AWA staff, i think we will be much more informed and will be of more value to the organization.
More to come...
please keep questions and thoughts coming! all of this is going to end up in the FAQ book somewhere!!!
Thanks!
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Re: FAQ Book for Volunteers

Postby Ross on Mon Nov 03, 2008 4:38 pm

This is an excellent idea!!! I want to help in any way I can. The easiest way to get me is by email. lisar@awanj.org is where to get me.

Fran, there was something in one of the replies you had written that I have the answer to or an extension of the answer. I, of course, can't remember now but I will go back and look.

Amy, for the hand-outs for cat declawing, litterbox issues, etc. I have all of them of cd so you could borrow that if that would be easier than scanning a ton of pages! I believe I have one for the dogs too. I will have to look for that one.

Let me know if I can answer any questions for anyone!


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Re: FAQ Book for Volunteers

Postby Ross on Mon Nov 03, 2008 4:57 pm

Fran wrote:Okay. I'll answer the sleep over question, cat lady :) Kathryn is right -- she is one of our resident experts on the kitties.

Some of the dogs are available for what's called a sleep over -- which means they are available to spend the night with a prospective family, see how they do, see how they interact with everyone in the household, etc. The potential adopter signs a foster agreement, agreeing to take the dog overnight and return in 24 hours -- either to return the dog if it didn't work out or to finalize the adoption. Alot of people like the idea of this because they get to take the doggie home, get a feel for whether or not it's going to work out, without being obligated for the non-refundable adoption fee. They only pay that within the 24 hour period if they decide it's a good match. Alot of our dogs have been adopted this way -- it makes for alot of success stories. Some people don't think a dog will work out, so they pass that dog by. But, if they have an opportunity to give it a "test run", they're pleasantly surprised.

I think it's a great idea also to get to know the dogs, where they came from. If the dog is an owner surrender, the previous owners are required to fill out a questionnaire giving as much info on the dog as they can. This is very helpful in answering questions when people want to know reasons for surrender, etc. Unfortunately, if the dog is a transfer from another shetler, there really isn't must history to tell and we sometimes have to go on our own instincts and personal interactions we've had. Volunteers can relay their own experiences to potential adopters on how the dog reacts when walked, when coming in view of other dogs, are they playful, etc.

Another simple question people ask is if the dogs are fixed already. AWA has a strict rule -- no pets leave the building without being fixed. An adoption can be finalized, but the pet stays until surgery and recuperation.

Another question -- can AWA hold an animal. No, no pets are held for any period of time. Some people actually come in a day or two before they're ready to leave on vacation and want to know if AWA can hold the dog until they get back. The answer is a definite no. Go on vacation and then come back in when you get back. There's never a shortage of dogs to love.

All dogs must meet the other dogs in the household too. If someone comes in, chooses a dog and wants to adopt, AWA requires that they bring their other pets to the shelter and have them meet their new family member out in one of the play areas.

Hope some of this helps. If I think of any more, I'll jot them down!



Fran, I found it!!!

Ok, I want to clarify some of this...It is AWA policy that every animal is spayed/neutered before being adopted. We WILL NOT finalize an adoption until the surgery has been performed. Now if the animal is not altered yet but can be within the next day or two, we can "hold" it until after surgery and then finalize the adoption when surgery is over and they are there to pick up the animal. Does that make sense to everyone?

For the sleepover...if the person does not end up adopting the dog and does bring it back to the shelter, the office staff will ask them to fill out a dog questionnaire to give us a little more insight. When the dog leaves for a sleepover we can send the questionnaire home with them as well (just in case).

Hold policy...Fran is right and wrong. :) haha. We love to be confusing!!! The hold policy is: Cats are not held for any reason other than surgery the next day. The entire family does not have to do interactions with the cat like dogs require. As long as the cat is UTD and altered and Adoption Team is comfortable with adopters we can and will send the cat home the same day. Now for the dogs it's a little different. If there are other human family member or K9 family members in the same house as the new dog will be, all need to meet before the adoption can be finalized. If the first person is here to visit before 3pm they have until the close of the same day to get everyone in to meet. If that first person is here after 3 pm they have until close of the next day to get everyone in for the meet. Make sense?

If that has you more confused than ever email or call me at the shelter or just come in and make faces at me! In any case, I hope this helps somewhat!
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Re: FAQ Book for Volunteers

Postby Ross on Mon Nov 03, 2008 5:04 pm

jenniesloan86 wrote:Ohhh you know what I wanted to know. If they've surrendered an animal to us before, they can't adopt again right?

As for declawing, I looked up information for the softee claw covers or whatever their called for a coworker who wants to declaw on of the kittens from my litter, I wonder if we could print info out on it and keep it on hand in the shelter?



It all depends on the reason they needed to return the cat to the shelter. If they adopted the cat and at home the new cat was terrorizing the other cat or the dog and they brought it back, then we can adopt to them again.

Now if someone adopted an animal from us and returned it and the animal had been suffering, they go on our Do Not Adopt list.
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Re: FAQ Book for Volunteers

Postby Ross on Mon Nov 03, 2008 5:15 pm

Kathryn has some good answers for the cat questions!!

Anytime you are uncomfortable with a potential adopter you can easily just say " I need a manager to look this over and approve for you so I have them look at your survey when they get a chance." or something of sort.

I also have handouts on how to introduce new cats to one another. It's on the cd I mentioned in one of the other 40 replies I just did!

Alright, I'm done now.
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