Friday, February 12, 2010

BadRap on BACS

We are fortunate to have a relationship with BadRap, one of the most effective organizations in the country advocating, educating, and evaluating to help the cause of pit bulls, most of whom comprise the canine population of our shelter. Offering free classes to pit bull adopters, immediately after adoption and classes to volunteers willing to work with a dog to help improve his or her chances of adoption, BadRap is an integral part of helping dogs get adopted and helping to try to make the adoptions stick.

In an insightful blog entry about finding the right homes, not just any homes, BadRap praises Berkeley for the work it does to try to make matches that we hope will be successful. That work includes interactions staff and voluteers have with prospective adopters, temperament testing, notes on walk cards, and plain old taking dogs out for walks to get a better sense of who they are and who might be the best fit for them. So, thank you fellow volunteers for all the hard work you do to try to get our pitties in the right homes. I feel fortunate to be part of such a devoted corps!

February 10, 2010

. . . Berkeley gets it.There are reasons to feel optimistic about possibilities. One of the best examples is in Berkeley - the town that we bragged (see below) about some time ago for its ongoing work to help pit bulls and to create a sustainable balance for the pets in its community.Berkeley can drive me nuts at times (It's still legal to walk your dog on an invisible voice-command-only leash. Yep, for real), but we have to give this city of idealists a mountain of credit for actually wanting a system that supports pit bulls and other pets in crisis, and then for keeping that goal front and center for several years until it started to gel. That includes everything from working to meet dogs' needs while in the shelter, supporting home visits and owner education in front of adoptions, and training and information after the dog goes home. Their system is far from perfect, but they continue to offer one of the best Shelter Adoption models we've seen for pit bulls, and we stay committed to giving them a good chunk of our weekend for that reason . . .
May 11, 2008

Something VERY exciting has been going on in Berkeley in recent months. It's so exciting that we've been afraid to talk for fear of jinxing it. That is, empty kennels ... lots and lots of empty kennels in the city shelter. Ten years ago, the 60 runs at open-admission Berkeley Animal Care Services were depressingly full, sometimes doubled up, and staff was forced to euthanize for space...up to 600 dogs a year. But in 2007, the number of dog euthanasias was down 90%, with only 50 dogs put to sleep . . . Our girl Sally was set to be euthanized in BACS due to lack of space, way back when. You-know-who actually inspired us to start BAD RAP.Since last summer, the number of dogs coming in to BACS has dropped so much that almost one half of the runs are now consistently EMPTY. Last week, an all time low with 34 empty runs. It's almost too quiet in there! What's going on? We have to credit a combination of efforts: Successful Marketing of Shelter Dogs, Owner Education including Free Training, Volunteerism, Rescue and Voluntary Spay/Neuter Programs.

In short: The shelter staff and the local community kicked ass to make some changes.We're really proud to be part of the these changes. Every week, dog owners pour into our Berkeley classes to learn how to be good stewards for their dogs and volunteers train unowned shelter dogs (pit bulls and their mixes are the most over-represented breed in BACS). It's extremely gratifying to see dogs that were once ill-mannered and a wee bit out of control turn into well behaved canine good citizens thanks to the help of the diehards who keep trucking in every week, some from over an hour away. It gets even better when the shelter dogs' new adopters show up to learn the drill.This month, 25 new dog owners started BR's Beginning Class, and our Drop In class is at an all time high with up to 25 volunteer handlers and new adopters working the dogs together. (Over 400 people are on our waiting list trying to get in - EEK!) To keep up with the demand, we've called in reinforcements, and now the talented Linda Chwistek and Donyale Hoye are giving up even more of their Saturdays to help train the new influx of people. It's going to be a busy summer!
So, there. It's out: Voluntary spay/neuter works, and Community Partnerships will save the world. At least, that's the plan . . . . Congrats to Kate O'Connor and the staff at Berkeley Animal Care Services. With unwavering tenacity - not to mention a lot of class - you've shown everyone how to make it work. Well done.
Reprinted with permission of BadRap.

1 comment:

Joel said...

Thanks Pam, I'm going to bookmark this blog as well. The entry in your link is very interesting, particularly the part about Bad Rap's experiences with mismatched shelter dogs.

BACS is incredibly fortunate to have a relationship with an organization such as Bad Rap. The number of BACS volunteers who bring shelter pits to Bad Rap classes is a credit to our shelter. But it's also a testament to the commitment that Bad Rap has to both pit bulls and our shelter, because volunteers such as me often simultaneously have the most to learn and have brought the dogs that need the most help. The Bad Rap instructors are incredibly generous and patient, because they have to devote so much of the lessons to people and dogs who are taking the classes for free.

When you read the "Great Expectations" section of your link, you can see how allowing the volunteers and shelter dogs is a long-term investment for Bad Rap, as they are hoping that time spent up front while dogs are still in the shelter will lead to better-adjusted dogs in homes and fewer new adoptive owners bringing in dogs that needed to start class a long time prior.

Thanks Bad Rap for being so willing to work with our shelter dogs and help our volunteers!