FAQ Book for Volunteers

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FAQ Book for Volunteers

Postby aplappert on Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:46 pm

Hey All!
I am a relatively new volunteer and would like to create an FAQ Binder for volunteers to refer to when adopters have questions. I know it gets really busy there and sometimes an AWA staffer isn't available to answer questions. So, i was thinking that I would put together a binder of FAQ's and their answers and keep it by the volunteer sign-in book at the front desk. That way there, if a potential adopter has a question, volunteers would at least have a book to refer to if a question arises, rather than risk having the potential adopter wait and possibly lose the adoption. The more organized and knowledgeable we are, the higher our adoption rates will be.
If you think it's a good idea, please email me suggested FAQ's and the answer (if you have it!) at atrimbur@comcast.net. Together we'll be able to provide the best volunteer support that we can!
Thanks!
Amy
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Re: FAQ Book for Volunteers

Postby Fran on Mon Oct 27, 2008 3:34 pm

I agree, this is a terrific idea. My son and I have been there since March and still need answers to questions that get asked. Nice idea Amy -- hope to meet you one of these days :)
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Re: FAQ Book for Volunteers

Postby jenniesloan86 on Mon Oct 27, 2008 6:15 pm

very cool idea. i always get that deer in headlights look when someone asks me a question. I'm usually trying to hide behind my camera, but try to help when it gets busy.
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Re: FAQ Book for Volunteers

Postby aplappert on Mon Oct 27, 2008 7:10 pm

okay, cool! Glad everyone is on board. Here's what I'm thinking...take a few minutes today, tomorrow...whenever...and jot down questions you've been asked by potential adopters that you either did or didn't know the answer to. Any time you get a question, please try to remember to share it with me...we all have varying degrees of experience at AWA, so the more I can get a hold of, the better! Send those to me via email at atrimbur@comcast.net, reply to this post or even call me at 856-371-6713. i'll get the answers if you don't have them. then, I'll put together a comprehensive book that will hopefully hit on most of the issues that arise.
I need questions about the cats, too, because i know NOTHING about the cat adoption process or even about cats themselves! same goes with bunnies, ferrets...whatever animals we have available.
A word on knowing about individual species...I think it would be best if we could have people who are comfy with dog behavior talk to adopters about the dogs and the have the cat people (hee hee) answer cat questions when it comes to behavior of the species. It would be really easy to answer a question incorrectly and thwart a potential adopter. Saying you don't know an answer, but will find someone who does is a fine answer. Just make sure you follow through with finding someone (and yes, I know how difficult that can be at times!)
As an FYI about answering questions about individuals animals, I have made it a practice to look in the animal's file and give the potential adopter as much info as possible. I'll check with Keryl to make sure this is okay to do, but i know her philosophy is to disclose as much info as possible to ensure a successful, fur-ever placement. More to come later on that...
So far, i've started my own list of questions that put me into a deer-in-the-headlights state :) I need to know yours. Being new is an asset with this project because I can't take much of my knowledge for granted!
Please feel free to email me or call me directly. I am really excited about building a knowledgeable, reliable base of volunteers so that more and more pets can be adopted successfully!
LET THE QUESTIONS BEGIN!!!!
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Re: FAQ Book for Volunteers

Postby Fran on Mon Oct 27, 2008 9:04 pm

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!
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Re: FAQ Book for Volunteers

Postby aplappert on Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:22 am

woo hoo! this thread is AWESOME! I'm glad you have both answers and questions! All of this will be incorporated. I'm thinking of setting up the binder with a section on General Shelter Info, General Volunteer Info, Cat Adoption Info, Dog Adoption Info, Small Mammal Adoption info and Clinic Info. The behavior info will fall under the particular animal adoption section. This might be the hardest part because if you really don't know much about dog training or cat handling, you might not have an answer, but at least you'll know a vague answer and will be able to then locate a staffer with more info.
If you can think of any other sections to include in the binder, let me know.
I would like to put together a draft and then send it out to whoever requests a copy to proof and edit it. I'm going to try to do most of the work on it during my lunch breaks here at work and over the weekend, but this might take some time if it is going to be efficient.
Please keep your suggestions coming! this is really great!
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Re: FAQ Book for Volunteers

Postby Fran on Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:00 pm

Yes, I too have known organizations who will deny an adoption on the declaw issue. I think the key here is to inform people exactly what is done in a declaw procedure. I honestly don't think alot of people are that informed on exaxtly what is done to a kitty for this. And, maybe if they know more about it, they'll give it more thought and decide against it. Up until a few years ago, I didn't really know either. And, I've had cats all my life. After finding out more info and knowing what I know now, I couldn't do it. So, I do think the key is information and counseling against it. That's about all we can do and hope for the best.

And, one more thing on the kitty category -- litter boxes. I have seen at least two cats that have been surrendered for "training" issues and have been re-adopted and haven't been back since. Now, two things -- either the surrendering put that down as their "reason" for lack of a better one or the new family knew exactly how to maintain kitty's box. Definitely a litter box needs to be clean. Cats are finicky creatures -- they take one look at dirty box and figure they're not putting them precious paws in there. That's one of the biggest issues. Scented litter too -- bad idea. I changed to a scented litter one time and one of my guys peed right in front of the box, I guess as a form of protest. Anyway, training a cat is very easy. Nine times out of ten, if a cat isn't using the box, there's the possibility of a physical problem that needs to be checked out.

I have been asked many times about the dogs being potty trained. The main answer I have gotten from staff, since there's really no way to be sure, is that every dog has an indoor and outdoor to their run. And, most of the dogs choose to go on the outside part as opposed to where they lay down and eat. So, that's a positive sign that they're either trained already or are amenable to being trained fairly easily.

Okay. That's it from me for now :)
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Re: FAQ Book for Volunteers

Postby awanjadmin on Wed Oct 29, 2008 2:55 pm

Hi Amy,

I'd be happy to answer any FAQ you need answers to, especially regarding rabbits and small animals :) Feel free to post questions here or you can email me at info@awanj.org.

Thanks so much for doing this for the volunteers, I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

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Re: FAQ Book for Volunteers

Postby jenniesloan86 on Thu Oct 30, 2008 5:21 pm

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?
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Re: FAQ Book for Volunteers

Postby Fran on Thu Oct 30, 2008 6:16 pm

That's a great idea, Jennie. I forgot about those things. My friend runs a cat rescue and all her kitties have them on. They actually look kinda neat.

I'd like to know about the surrender question as well. I didn't know about that.
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