Animal Rescue of the Week: Episode 28 – Hot Springs Village Animal Welfare League in Arkansas

Hot Springs Village Animal Welfare League as a No-Kill, has multiple programs to help homeless animals in need of care and love, as well as those humans who value and love companion animals.

To learn more, please visit their website or Facebook page!

“Welcome to the ARPA Animal Rescue of the week podcast, featuring outstanding organizations around the country that are helping animals & the people who rescue them. This podcast is proudly sponsored by Doobert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues & shelters, and the only site that automates rescue relay transport. Let’s meet this week’s featured animal rescue.

A group of eight animal loving residents of Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, gathered together to form this nonprofit animal welfare corporation in 1991. Initially, the organization provided volunteers and small amounts of funds to help the property owners association animal control, but later grew into a vibrant rescue group. In 2013 they expanded their mission to reflect their enhanced presence in the village and surrounding areas. As a result, they have multiple programs to help homeless animals in need of care, as well as those humans who value and love companion animals.

 Hey, Debbie, welcome to the show. Thanks. Yeah, I’m really excited to have you as a guest today and learn a little bit more about Hot Springs Village Animal Welfare League. You guys are located in Arkansas. Why don’t you start us off and tell us a little bit about your organization and maybe how you guys came to be. Well, we incorporated in 1991 as a 501 C3 nonprofit. There’s a group of residents here, villagers that organized the animal property with just one purpose. Our animal control officers at the time needed some help, and they organized to raise money to achieve that. We now have more than 200 volunteers to help throughout the year, with shelter operations and a variety of other programs. So 1991 What is that? Almost 30 years essentially right? 28 years? Yeah, it’s a pretty long time in this industry. How did you come to join the organization? And what is your role? Well, I’ve lived here for 12 years, but when I retired and moved here, I was really busy with golf and little part-time work, so I didn’t actually become a member of the league until about halfway through that. But I’ve been working with the organization for about three years now.

 You mentioned 200 volunteers. That’s actually a large number of volunteers to kind of help you guys at the shelter. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about what those roles are? Where are you using 200 volunteers and then give us a little bit of a picture on how many animals you guys  are helping per year.How many come into your care? How are you getting them? I just threw a bunch of questions at you, right, but give me a little bit of background on that. I’d say, in terms of numbers, we’re probably looking at about 500 animals a year that come through. We have both cats and dogs. Cats. We have probably half in half between residency of the shelter and in foster homes. So at any point in time, we’ve probably got around 30 cats at the shelter and maybe even more than that in foster homes. We’re really dependent on fosters for cats. With dogs, we’re probably looking at 15 to 20 that are at the shelter at any given time. And then just a handful that are in foster homes. So, maybe five or six that are in foster homes at any given time. So, you guys definitely helped more cats, then you do dogs. So how did those animals come to you? Are they owner surrenders? Are they strays? Tell me a little bit about how you’re helping those animals in your care, where they come from. Well, I would say predominantly, they come in as strays, especially with the dogs. We do have a number of surrenders that come in. We are kind of a retirement community. So there are folks that get to that point in their life where they’re unable to care for their animals anymore. So they give them to us as a resource to help, help us help get their animals rehomed. Okay, but you know the primary way is, is coming in through strays through the animal control department.

 I think you hear more stray dogs coming to shelters than you do cats. And so, since you have a larger number of cats, how are those guys coming to you? Well, I think the difference there is that we take in a lot of kittens. We get the, you know, the adult cats in as strays. But then we also end up with a lot of kittens that come in as well. So I think that’s probably the difference in that, Yeah, we do have some puppies that come through, but certainly not as many as there are when cat season comes into play. Yeah, yeah, that kitten season really kills a lot of organizations. It definitely takes a lot of resources, doesn’t it? Yes, it sure does. 

So when I think Arkansas, but I’ve never been to Arkansas, so it might be a little bit of me being naive here, but I always think Arkansas as a very rural state. I’m in Wisconsin, so we definitely have some of that as well. You’d mentioned that Hot Springs Village is a retirement community, so talk to me a little bit about, like when I think retirement community, I think like Florida and Phoenix, that kind of gated community. So tell me a little bit about Hot Springs Village as a retirement community. We’re gonna celebrate our 50th anniversary next year. It was created in 1970. As a Cooper community, we have about 32,000 flatted home sites, which sounds really big, but there’s really only 14,000 residents, so there’s a lot of open space here. Geographically, we cover about 6000 acres. It was one time a commercial worst, a timber forest, so the homes aren’t really necessarily concentrated except when you get closer to the golf courses on the lake. So we have nine golf courses and 11 lakes. Wow. So it’s a lot. Yeah, it’s a lot more like living in a vacation resort then it is  a subdivision. I was just, I was just gonna say that. That’s exactly what I think of a retirement community, I think like, very small and a very tight-knit group. But 26,000? That’s huge. I know an acre is big. I know 26,000 is a big number, so I’m like trying to visually put this together. How many people live in Hot Springs Village? About 14,000. In terms of perspective, we have one road that runs East to West, and it’s about 14 miles long. Okay. And then another one that runs North and South, and it’s about 10 miles. Yeah, that definitely helps try to wrap my mind around this space versus the 26,000 acres. It’s a retirement community, but it’s its own town. I mean, you guys have everything there is. You mentioned 11 lakes and nine golf courses. That’s huge. I think that’s one of the things that makes you guys really unique in that you’re located in this retirement community. You guys are also self-funded, right? The shelter itself. Right. Okay. Yes. Do you guys support the surrounding communities at all? And what’s that kind of look like for you? Well, sure. We do as far as the area that we serve, it is confined to the village or in terms of intake. OK. And in animal control, we serve just the geographical area. Okay. within Hot Springs Village. But we do try to extend out into the communities that surround us because that’s where the greater need is. So we have a number of programs that help with that. Anything from educational needs in the schools to programs to help with emergency vet care.

 So let’s dive into these programs a little bit. I’ll let you kind of take the lead, but tell me a little bit about the programs that you guys offer there. Internally, we offer, of course adoptions. So we provide all the necessities of that care, sterilization, warming and immunizations for all the animals that do come into our care. We make sure they’re adoptable and then we try to find loving permanent homes for them. We do strive to match the animals to the adopters so that this can be their last stop. They’re forever home. But we do adopt to families, that are not only a Hot Springs Village, but throughout Arkansas and even in other states. Okay. We also have programs that are designed to help the villagers, the people that live here, to rehome their pets. When you know, when it comes to that point in their life, where they’re unable to care for them anymore, we do all the marketing for their pets. Use our advertising resources. Our adoption coordinators facilitate the adoptions on their behalf. We’re really just working on behalf of that family to try to find the right home for their pet. And during that time, they actually get to keep their pet in their home. Keeping it out of the shelter is a, is a win for the animal. Also win for us, so we don’t have to take up space within our, our shelter property. Um, and they get to keep their pet until they find the right owner.

 Let’s talk about that re-homing for a second, cause I hear this more and more with organizations that this is becoming a focus for them. How long has this program been going for you guys? And how did it get started? Were you having people come to you asking you for help and looking for resources or did you guys just kind of come up with this on your own? And I just knew it was time to add it into your programs. How did that come about? Well, it actually came about because there was a very active member that had a need. And we really didn’t have a program to facilitate it. So it was really the brainchild of the people that were on the board at that point in time and said, why can’t we do this? And they developed the program from that. And it’s been, it’s been very successful. And every pet that has come into the program has been successfully rehomed since the beginning of the program. And I don’t know exactly how old the program is, but I’d say it’s at least six or seven years old. Yeah, so that’s definitely on the front line of this, right? I mean, only recently has it become kind of a priority, I would say for organizations, but I don’t know that, you know, many people were doing that six or seven years ago. So I definitely put you guys on the front line of that. So that’s kind of cool and that everyone that’s come to you, you know, has had a successful ending. So I think that’s really cool. And something to be proud of. Exactly.

 Yeah, I want to know a little bit more about the educational piece of this. You kind of mentioned it a few minutes ago. I want to know a little bit more about that. What are you guys doing? What’s that outreach program look like? Tell me more. There are three schools that we work with, and it’s kind of an awareness program to teach kids about humane treatment of companion animals. So there’s a publication that’s done by the Humane Society of the United States called Kind News. You may have heard of it, and we provide that to all the elementary students in three school districts. We also provide new books for their libraries each year. Each year, we also sponsor an essay contest that allows us to get in the schools and promote humane treatment of animals. It just helps kids at a young age understand that animals need respect, and we are dependent on them to help the other people in their family kind of understand how it is that we expect and we need animals to be treated. So somebody decided to reach out to the school districts and work with them to build these programs. Do you guys do anything at the shelter where the kids can come to you whether it’s field trips or, you know, learning about different services in programs, do you guys have anything like that? Or is it all you guys going to the schools and teaching that way? Well, it’s usually us going out into the schools and finding ways. We have had a couple of organized visits where, like a Girl Scout troop will come through and, we’ll, you know, walk them through the shelter and, and show him the cats and their cat condos,and the dogs and their kennels and things like that. But it’s highly organized. Which is really cool. I mean, a lot of times when people talk about you know, the educational aspect of it. I feel like this is the one topic for me that really has a broad range for people. Sometimes it does need going into the schools and other times it means that they can sign their group up and they come to the shelter and there’s activities and they help with the cleaning and some of the smaller, easier tasks. But there’s always such a wide range and in what people consider their educational programs. So I appreciate what you guys are doing, in the building relationships, is something that is really important to organizations and with, you know, your educational programs, that something that you have to maintain year over year. You know, you’re impacting generations of students, and I think that’s really important. Yes, it’s actually very rewarding, too, because with the contests that we do, we go into the schools that you know the end of the year when they’re doing all their recognition events. And it’s just another thing that we can help recognize the work that the kids do throughout the year. So whether it’s an essay contest or we’ve tried different things in the past and we try to, you know, vary that a little bit, so it doesn’t become old. Just give, keep the kids engaged. Yeah, and that’s not, that’s not easy to do, right? Kids get very distracted. If you have, you know, your third graders and then the fourth graders, and they’re hearing the same thing. Why do they feel compelled to learn to hear the same thing over and over? So you do kind of have to have different programs to keep them engaged and keep their learning. And, you know, you know this. There’s so much to learn in this industry, you have to be able to tailor it to your community and to the students that you’re teaching. And I think if you could do that and maintain the relationships, there’s no reason that you can’t succeed with programs like that. Exactly. 

The other one that you quickly mentioned before the educational piece was, the emergency resources, what exactly does that mean? Well, we have a program called Angel Fund Program, and it’s designed to provide financial aid for emergency vet care to pet owners in the area when they can’t afford what’s necessary. So if a dog gets hit by a car or they have a cat that’s having a bad urinary tract infection and they simply can’t afford to take the dog or cat to the vet, then this fund can help them. At the very least, get the animal examined to determine exactly what the issue is that we’re talking about. And then where we can we try to help the bill as much as we can, so it’s definitely not a free program, but it allows people to get care for their animals that might otherwise have to be euthanized because I just can’t afford anything else. I think when we have animals, we think we can. We have the money and the funds to support them. Until you get that emergency, that happens. And sometimes it’s hard for us as humans, to walk into an organization and ask for help or actually admit that we don’t have that kind of money lying around. So we need help. How does that conversation happen? You know, a lot of times I hear that people are afraid to ask for help with animal organizations, whether it’s a rescue or a shelter, when somebody comes to you in that position, they’re already really vulnerable. They’re already really emotional. What’s the approach that you guys are taking? Because of just what you just described, it’s kind of an uneasy process. Because in most cases they’ve already talked to a vet. Okay. And they’ve determined that they’re not gonna be able to. And their only hope is by contacting us. So many times that the veterinary office will contact us directly, and one of the members of the team will call a family. And that sometimes makes it easier because the approaches from us to them, rather than from them, to us. Sure. So that conversation kind of starts with, you know, it’s kind of backward than what you might think it would be. So there are some program requirements. We kind of explain the program upfront and explain that one of our greatest missions is to reduce the pet population and that if their animal is not spayed or neutered, that it’s a requirement of the program for them to agree to do that as well. And that conversation goes remarkably well, most of the time. They’re willing to do that, especially since it’s low cost. We really kind of killed two birds with one stone if you will, sure and that we can get the animal sterilized and try to prevent unnecessary births or with the help that we’re providing. Yeah, I like that that’s an easy process or an easy conversation, because that is, you know, in most organizations it’s not as easy as what, you know, as what you guys were doing. 

So we’ve talked a bit about some programs that you guys have, but I also know you have a couple more. Talk to me a little bit about the spay and neuter side of things, where you guys are. Since 2007, which is when we started with our mobile clinics, we have sterilized over 5000 animals. Through June of this year 5733 to be exact. I love that. That’s a, that’s outside of the animals that do come through the shelter. So this is only community animals. We offer spay/ neuter clinics, and we have four of those a year, and they are a low cost, sometimes no cost for those families that are low-income pet owners. And we focus on the communities that surround Hot Springs Village in hopes that we have fewer animals that come into the village, for us to care and adopt out. As far away is 25 miles, we have these four clinics annually. We also use a voucher system. So that for those families that can’t come to the clinics or it’s not a convenient time, we send them to two local veterinarians that we worked out with to spay or neuter the animals with the vouchers, and that’s in accordance with our grants and our funding that primarily paced back in both Groans and Spring counties, the two companies that the Hot Springs Village exists in. So we’re very proud of that, and it helps us in our commitment to save them all as a no-kill organization as well.

 I also see I was just looking at your website. You guys also have something called the Hug program. I’m curious about this. Is that something you can share more about? Sure, it’s a program that’s relatively new in terms of how old our organization is, but it’s really become a program that we’ve relied on the last several years, because the need has just exploded. So we worked to connect with other rescue groups outside of Arkansas to transport dogs to where they have a greater demand. Especially for larger dogs. And they don’t have the ability to fund their own needs because they have strict laws in place for spay and neuter in their states. So we work with organizations to identify animals that are ones that are in demand in their areas. And then we arranged for transportation, mostly for dogs. There have been some cats. We rely on that transport program to help us adopt out those dogs that are harder first here. And that’s usually the larger dogs. Since it’s primarily a retirement community. It’s easier for us to adopt out smaller dogs because the focus here, the demographic can more easily handle a smaller dog than a 50 or 60 year, 80-pound lab. Yeah, absolutely. That makes, that makes very logical sense. So you said, that’s a fairly new program. I’m curious, did you guys start to see an influx in large dogs showing up at your organization that you were like, what do we do? How do we help them? Or was it somebody from the community that, that kind of came to you with that idea? No, I think it just kind of morphed over time. And when we started keeping numbers, which was 3 1/2 -4 years ago, it was low in the 20s to 50s. And since it’s grown to more than 100 I think a hundred. Last year’s 131 animals that we transported elsewhere. So we certainly don’t go out looking for animals to bring into our shelter. They just come. Yeah, somehow that just happens, right? I think that’s the same response I get from everybody. It’s like, Where did they, where do they keep coming from? And that’s why I think the educational and the spay/ neuter programs are so important. We need to be out there telling people about the importance of Spaying and neutering.

 And I’m gonna ask the question, because there’s always a favorite out of all your programs. Maybe it’s one we talked about, maybe it’s one we didn’t. Which one is your favorite and why? Like you just touched on, the spay and neuter program is not only the favorite, but it’s also what we’re the proudest of. It is the way to reduce pet population across the board and you really can’t fix the problem if you leave, if you leave the proverbial faucet turned on. Somehow you’ve got to turn off the faucet or you’re gonna keep mopping it up. So that’s the way that we think that we’re making the biggest difference. I don’t think that’s too different from other rescues, but we really put a lot of energy and effort and money, and a lot of our volunteer hours go into that program. We think that we’ve got it refined, so that it goes rather smoothly when we do have the clinics, but also the whole voucher process works rather fluidly, as well. I mean, it is a little different for each organization, but I think it’s only different because organizations have their own set of programs. So it just kind of depends on the programs that they have, and kind of where their focus is, and of course, that changes year over year. Just kind of depends on the community and what the needs are at that time. But I agree. I think, you know, having a program like that for 12 years, it’s definitely established and I think, you know, other people can learn from that.

 So, Debbie, I want to know a little bit about the challenges in your organization. I think you guys are in a really unique area, being in a retirement community and then having, you know, a very rural location around you. I want to know what challenges you guys have on your plate, either now or in the past and maybe what you’ve done to overcome those challenges. I could cite the intake volumes, but I think every rescue suffers from that. Sure. The need can certainly be overwhelming, especially for states like Arkansas , where we’re still struggling to get laws on the books that would help curb breeding practices and help support spay/ neuter requirements that could help us get the overpopulation under control. But I think realistically, in the short term, we really just we’re struggling to find partner rescues that have the higher demand for dogs that we’re talking about, when we talked about the Hug Program. Sure. Places where we can transport to and when it gets full. We have a hard time finding adopters for the larger breeds. And additionally, for puppies, you wouldn’t think that people that rescue would have a hard time with, with adopting out puppies in the older demographic. Means that they don’t really, they don’t wanna fight the fight that exists. True. So, when it, when it gets full here, our only choice is really to pay for boarding. We exhaust the fosters that we have. We have a lot better process, success in the foster program with cats than we do with dogs, but especially when it gets to the bigger dogs. We just don’t have fosters for them. So we have to board, and that’s expensive. So we continually look for opportunities to partner with other rescues and as this has evolved nationwide, it becomes harder and harder to find rescues that are looking for dogs. I know they’re out there, but we sure make a lot of contacts and get and get a lot of nos. Yeah, For as many calls or emails as we send. Yeah, that is definitely the hardest part is trying to find organizations who can receive animals like I know they’re out there. I’ve heard of people, but yet when it comes down to it, it’s really hard to find them. It’s almost like you’re just throwing a pin in a map and you’re saying, let me call all the organizations in this town or in this city. But there’s a lot of towns and cities in this, in this country. Even if you split the country in half and took that Northern group, there’s a lot of people up there, a lot of towns, a lot of organizations and where do you really start? Exactly. I can see how that’s a challenge for you guys.

 What are you currently doing now? Or is that what you’re doing is literally jumping on the computer and kind of cold calling organizations? Or are you making calls based on relationships that you have? We really have gone full circle. So it started with just getting on the phone and asking questions. We started with just taking a shot in the dark or rescues that we find on Adopt a Pet or Pet finder. And looking through websites and poking around to make sure they’re a good organization first and then making phone calls even to contacting those companies that do transport and say, who do you transport to? From those investigations, we have found a couple that we routinely transport to, you know they’re trying to help out lots of organizations. So we’re able to send a couple of dogs a month to a couple of those. But we struggled to find more opportunities because the need continues to grow. Now I’m gonna tell you. So I hear more of, like, the cold calling and some of those other things, I got to tell you, the one that I was like, huh, that’s an interesting one, is you guys actually reached out to transport organizations inside. Who do you work with? Can we tap into that? I don’t, I’ve never heard of that one before. Yeah. That’s pretty smart. Yeah, well, thank you. And it actually got us two of those that we work with, that’s exactly how we found them. So good tactic. Yeah. I mean, it takes a lot because, like you said, you’re calling a lot of transport companies or groups and to get two out of that, it’s a, it’s a lot of legwork to find those organizations. And I’m guessing and you can correct me if I’m wrong, but those two organizations, it’s not like they’re taking 20 dogs a month from you. It’s a couple here, and it’s a couple there. It’s a lot of work. I mean, I know every animal counts in that, but it’s also about being efficient and saving as many as you can in a relatively smooth process. So that has to take a lot of your resources. It sure does. It sure does. You kind of hit the nail on the head there. We’re looking for ways that we can be more efficient with it. So one of the initiatives that we’re currently trying to get through, you know all the details of working it out, is partnering with other rescues in the local area, just to, you know, cobble together. Maybe a large load where it can make it more cost-effective, more efficient. To you know, if each of us can send five or six dogs at a time and send a transport load full from Arkansas to a specific general area and say the Northeast, it would be beneficial to all organizations that we could do that, rather than just onesies and twosies ing it here and there, like we have been doing. So we’re just getting started with that initiative and hopefully, we’ll be able to benefit from that in the not too distant future.

 One of my favorite parts in this, Debbie is memorable stories. It could be either in your time with this organization or, you know, in a past life or wherever. But I want to know what the one memorable story is when you think animal welfare, animal rescue. One day, our animal control officer arrived at work and she found a box of seven, very young, they were not yet weaned, very hungry puppies in a box at her doorway. The mother dog wasn’t there. Just puppies. So at that point time, we didn’t have a lactating mama dog at the shelter. So she called our adoption coordinator. And she jumped on the phone and contacted one of the puppy rescues that we’d worked within the past. And they just happened to have a momma dog that had recently weaned her puppies. We just needed to figure out a way to transport those puppies. Get them quickly, seven hours away. Oh boy. Yeah, that’s not an easy feat, is it? Right, right, So that we could, um we could give those puppies a chance to survive. But within about 30 minutes, we had found a person here that could drive and she found a person that could drive. We met halfway and her driver brought the mama. So within four and 1/2 hours of those puppies being discovered on the doorstep, they were nursing, with the new mama. So that was, that’s quite a memorable story. They all survived, and she helped get them all placed in forever homes. And now that’s the kind of spirit that we find in animal rescue. Just what makes it so rewarding. It’s just being able to have outcomes like that that are so rewarding that makes us really come back to work for nothing the next day. That’s definitely, that’s definitely true, isn’t it? You know, in, in your story, it reminds me that, if we all just pitch in a little bit, we can make great things happen. You’re basically asking somebody both of those drivers to give up their entire day to make that happen, and the fact that they did it pretty much at the drop of a hat. I think that’s the incredible part of the story.

Since you guys are all privately funded, I want to talk a little bit about how that happens. Do you guys do a lot of fundraising? Do you do events? Is it just through private donations? And then I want to know if you guys have any upcoming events that you want to share. The money really just comes from everywhere, we’re dependent upon our membership, and we have membership fees. They’re. they’re nominal. It’s $25 a year for a single person or $35 for a family. We have a few small grants. We don’t receive any money at all from any governmental entity, including the Property Owners Association. Okay. All donations are tax-deductible. We operate basically on the donations and then the few grants that we get. You know, we have a nominal adoption fee, but really, the adoption fee barely covers the cost that we’ve put into betting. Well, we have. Our major fundraiser is going to be held in September of this year. It’s called Putting on the Dog and Cat. They do a dinner for the community and they do purchase tickets to attend. Okay. But in addition to that, we do a live auction and we do some silent auctions of goods that have been donated to us and some things that we went out and solicited for, that we could do auctions with. So it’s one of the two big fundraisers that we have to do in alternating years. Okay. That’s in September and then the first week of October, we have our No Fleas Flea Market sale. And that’s where the community has donated goods for us and we just sell the goods and the flea market style sale, on a Saturday. Okay. That’s a lot of fun. We get, we get a lot of people that come out, not only to donate goods to us but then the same people come back the next day and buy other people’s stuff. Sure, it’s like that swap meet, right? I kind of like it, because you got to see what other people have. And it’s for a good cause, so. I like that you have, you know, main events, and then you kind of also do other things based around the community.

 One of the last pieces that I want to kind of talk about is the volunteers. Out of those 200, how many of those are participating in foster homes and where else are they kind of helping within your organization? Well, I think primarily the shelter operations, is where a lot of the volunteer hours are spent. The shelter itself is, is managed by the volunteers. So we do basically everything other than what the animal control officers do in terms of, you know, kennel cleaning and things like that. So we, we come in every day. We have, I’d say, on average, there’s eight or nine people every single day, that have time dedicated to coming in. We do everything from cleaning, doing dishes. We have folks that come in simply to socialize and play with the cats. Cuddle the cats and feed the cats. There’s another group of people that talk to our guests that come in. It’s called guest relations, so they man the front office. They answer the phone and handle everything in terms of relating to guests, showing them the available dogs and cats. We have dog walkers that come in every day, twice a day. Like I said before, we have up to 20 dogs, so their responsibility is to get them all out, socialized,  walked. They’ll come in the morning and come back in the afternoon. So that’s a big job, especially in the summertime, in the wintertime when that’s either really, really hot or really, really cold. Yeah. There’s no, there’s really no in-between in Arkansas is there? It’s either really hot or really cold. Not usually, no. That’s not what we remember anyway. Right. Right. You know, there’s so many programs that have on the periphery with there’s work that needs to be done, all the time. Whether it’s medical records, or we have folks who just worked to put together grants to write grants. The spay and neuter clinic is a big one where we have a lot of people that volunteer. So in terms of volunteers, they can do as little as they want or as much as they want. And we can, even though there are 200, there’s a lot of work to be done, and we can always use more. We can always use more right? That’s the bottom line is we can always use more. As you were talking about that, the one thing that kept resonating with me is, it’s really a well-oiled machine. You think sometimes with volunteer programs, it’s kind of here and there. You’ve got all these different things going on and, and you don’t imagine it, very smooth. And I feel like with what you guys are doing and how you operate, I feel like they should almost just be called staff. I just felt like in all of the things that you were telling me, it just seems like a well-oiled machine. You have teams for specific things, and everybody kind of knows their role, and they know how they can help both the organization and the community. It just seems like it works really well for you guys with that many volunteers. I agree, but it is, you know, it’s kind of evolved over like we talked about before, 28 years. So as you do evolve, you get to the point where you’re writing down what your practices are and who’s responsible for what and when. So that certainly helps out in terms of, you know, staff versus volunteers. The Property Owners Association supplies the animal control officers, of which there are two. Those two girls work hard at, you know, they’re doing their part in their role, of all the roles that are being done. But there’s, there’s just the two of those paid employees at the shelter, and then everyone else is a volunteer. Like I said, on any given day, there are eight or nine volunteers that are there. But as you said, their work has been highly organized.

 We have a training program, and regardless of which particular specialty you decide that you’d like to volunteer for, you do undergo a pretty good intensive, well not intensive, but it’s, it’s a well rounded training program. So that you know a little bit about everything as we want our volunteers to be. You know that they’re the face of the Animal Welfare League to the public. Because we want them to be well versed in everything about us. We do have a training program that lets you know how the shelter operates so that, should they need to answer a question or fill in for some reason, they can. You know they can do it confidently and not really shoot from the hip. Yeah, it definitely sounds like you guys have a comprehensive program built like you said 28 years. A lot of that is just credited to the amount of time that you guys have been open and, and serving the community not to take anything away from that. Still 28 years. There’s a lot of work to be done, right? You have to keep up on a lot of stuff in this industry. One that is always changing.

 We’re coming to an end here. So I have really, really appreciated my time with you. And I’ve learned a lot about you guys and the community that you’re in before we wrap things up. Is there anything else that we maybe we missed that you want to share? No, I don’t believe so. I just want to tell you that we very much appreciate the opportunity to participate today. We’re grateful to you for the efforts that you guys undertake, to further the cause of animal rescue and for helping us spread the word about the work we do to save the lives in our community. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Debbie. It’s been such a pleasure to have you on the show, and we hope to connect again in the future. Okay, great.

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