Animal shelter volunteers help post strays and adoptable cats and dogs online
Collin County’s Animal Services recently opened some new avenues to search for a lost pet – or find a new furry family member to adopt.
Thanks to some heavy lifting from a growing cadre of volunteers, the county’s animal shelter had a new Facebook page that lets you search for lost or adoptable dogs and cats – plus some stray livestock here and there, too. Volunteers like Miranda Fick, Allison Roberts and Brigitte Bernard devote a lot of time each week helping Animal Control officers photograph, catalogue and post strays and animals who are eligible to be adopted by the public.
“The wonderful volunteers give so much of their lives and hearts to help the animals here. They have helped countless pets find their way into new, loving homes,” said Misty Brown, shelter manager.
The shelter’s Facebook page launched in January and is steadily building up a following to get the word out about adoptable and lost-and-found pets.
Previously, stray pets were posted on a non-profit website but the page’s structure didn’t allow for dual lists of stray and adoptable pets, leaving the shelter staff to post strays so owners could hunt online for their lost dog or cat, without confusing folks looking to adopt a pet.
In late January, AnimalShelterNet helped solve the problem by giving the staff and volunteers the ability to enter data and photos of strays and adoptable pets and sort them into two separate lists, saving a lot of entry time. The network also has plans to have automatic updates of adoptable pets sent out to websites such as www.adoptapet.com and www.petfinder.com.
The website will soon introduce online abilities to post lost and found pet reports from across the county, and the county is also trying to make more room available for families to get acquainted with the cats and dogs available for adoption.
“It's been an exciting time since September for Collin County Animal Services,” said volunteer Miranda Fick. “The staff and volunteers have really pulled together to help increase the amount of animals adopted, redeemed and rescued.”
Miranda said the combined effort has allowed for staff and volunteers to increase adoptions, create a network that helps coordinate events, transport of animals, and an owner redemption team.
“A lot of animals are now being spayed and neutered prior to adoption,” she said, adding that “we have really been able to start working with animals with behavioral and medical issues as well.
“The key to success has been the open communication and transparency.”
The shelter relies heavily on the help of a large group of animal rescue groups whose members swoop in for particular breeds of cats and dogs, and use their resources and network contacts to find safe, permanent homes for the animals across North Texas and beyond.
Since September, the shelter’s adoption rate has climbed to surpass the rate of pet owners reclaiming their own animals who end up in the shelter. And in January, combining adoptions, owner redemptions of their pets and fostering by animal rescue groups, 95 % of all dogs cats that came into the shelter left alive. Five percent had to be put down due to court orders, injury, disease, aggressiveness or by owner request. So you know, that came to 391 dogs and cats.
Even school kids have pitched in to help draw awareness at the shelter. The Prince of Peace Christian School Kool Kats (Destination Imagination Team) created a dance video to get more folks thinking about adopting out of the shelter.
And more volunteers are always needed for weekdays and weekends to help with potential adopters. Anyone interested in helping can email firstname.lastname@example.org. The shelter’s volunteer network could use adoption counselors, people with marketing skills, business management skills, project management, even financial backgrounds.
“We need the community to embrace the shelter and make it the best it can be,” Miranda said. “There is so much more to come and now we just need to find all the right people to fit our puzzle.”
Misty Brown agrees:
“Without volunteer help, we would not be able to post all of the wonderful bios and pictures that are out there now and we would not be able to give the one-on-one attention to the adopters that they are able to give,” she said.
If you’re serious about adopting that so-called “fur-ever friend,” please check out who’s waiting for you at the shelter. We’ve posted adoption rates, and host low-cost vaccination and spay-neuter clinics regularly through the kind folks at the Texas Coalition for Animal Protection.