As AWA prepares to open the doors to its 25,000 sq. ft. building, we think about how the spaces inside are more than just rooms…they are areas where AWA’s innovative programs will continue saving pets and helping people. In choosing to use “Adoption Center” the focus will be on the outcome—happy pets with happy people—versus warehousing/sheltering. As an Education Center, AWA is doubling down on welcoming the community—youth, adults, other rescue workers—to come and enjoy a training class, attend summer camp, and learn how to improve disease management in a shelter. The Pet Clinic will be able to do more as it continues to serve as a model for spay/neuter and veterinary outreach into underserved communities.
With easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions AWA’s team of Dr. Emily, Nanci and Katie hit the road to visit three similar and nationally recognized animal welfare organizations to spend time with their staffs learning how they adjusted their operations and programs once they moved into a new building.
“Learning never stops when you are on a quest to do more for a mission you love,” shared Nanci, AWA’s Shelter Services Manager. When asked what she took away from her time with the Lynchburg Humane Society, she said, “The staff was extremely knowledgeable in their various departments and so willing to share that knowledge with us as colleagues in the field. The 400-mile trip to them was so worth it.”
Katie, an AWA adoption counselor, has placed thousands of pets in new loving homes. She also works with families to keep their pets through AWA’s pet retention programs, which offers support to pet owners, so they do not have to give up a beloved pet. “I truly enjoyed meeting others who do the work that I do with the same commitment, helping people find a new family member or helping them keep a treasured pet is very rewarding,” said Katie. She is looking forward to moving into the larger space so more animals can be helped.
Dr. Emily was able to spend time with the different organization’s medical teams. Shelter veterinary medicine is a specialty that now you can become board certified in. The knowledge or disease, spay/neuter, trauma are just examples of the diversity of things seen each day in a shelter’s ICU. “With shoe-string budgets the field is even more mentally demanding because you may not have at your disposal all the tests, equipment, and diagnostics you have at a private hospital,” says Dr. Emily. “You need to create care plans to decipher what may be an underlying issues and treat that.”
Traveling to places and networking with others in your field generates new ways of thinking and affirms that what you are doing is working. For over seventy-years AWA has been learning and moving forward and will continue in the future to help both animals and people in the community.