Animal Shelter of the Week: Episode 21 – Animal Shelter, Inc in Massachusetts

The staff at Animal Shelter Inc. of Sterling, Massachusetts is dedicated to finding good homes for adoptable pets and they promote responsible pet ownership to improve the quality of life for the animals and people in their community. The shelter is supported entirely by donations from private individuals and through surrender and adoption fees. They are a family friendly shelter with progressive programs that improve lives by raising the bar for animal care in the shelter and their community.

To learn more about Animal Shelter, Inc Sterling, please visit their website or facebook page today!

 

Welcome to the ARPA Animal Shelter of the week podcast where we introduce you to incredible organizations around the country that are focused on helping animals.  We’re proud to be sponsored by Doobert.com. Doobert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters, and the only site that automates rescue relay transport.  Let’s meet this week’s featured animal shelter. The Sterling Animal Shelter, Inc of Sterling, Massachusetts, is dedicated to finding good homes for adoptable pets, and they promote responsible pet ownership to improve the quality of life for animals and the people in their community. The shelter is supported entirely by donations from private individuals and through surrender, an adoption fees and their family friendly shelter with progressive programs that improve lives by raising the bar for animal care in the shelter and their community. Hey, Melissa, welcome to the show. The hi Thank you for having me. Yeah, I am super excited to have you, and I’d probably say that to all my guests. But I love connecting and learning about the different organizations across the country. So you are with Sterling Animal Shelter, which is in Massachusetts. And why don’t you start us off with with a little bit more about your organization and and maybe how you came to be there. Okay, so we are a private, nonprofit shelter. So here, even though our shelter is actually pretty small, we adopt out around 3500 animals per year. Um, I would say the majority of those animals, maybe like 60% or so are probably dogs and puppies. And and the other 40 or probably cats and kittens We do take in the occasional bunny or guinea pigs or Oh, that’s not our focus. But we’ll do that. Yeah, and Oh, actually, we just very recently started taking in rescue koi fish. Yeah, we have this, like area in our on our property that used to kind of be like this really kind of murky, swampy thing. Sure. And ah, directors husband was just kind of taking it on as a project that he made it into this beautiful pond. And it has, you know, a fountain and the benches. And, uh, it’s really, really nice. So we’re doing coy rescue now. Also, I you know, one of the questions that I like to ask is what makes you unique, right? I mean, I can obviously say I’ve never heard of a koi fish rescue. Um, wear out the price also, but it sounds like it’s working. So I have to ask before we go on, What does that look like? Do people give you coy? Do people take them from you, like, tell me what that looks like? So, I mean, we literally just started this maybe a month ago. Okay, um, but we realized that there’s actually a need for people to surrender koi fish. Um, unfortunately, the biggest need comes from people who have a relative who passes away. And the relative had a koi pond, and they’re the fisher just, you know, left with potentially no one who knows how to take care of them or wants to take care of them. Ah, so we’ve got this beautiful area, so we just decided, you know, we can take them in on, um we’ve started taking them in. We probably have about 10 koi fish total, and we have not started wth e adopting them out process yet. Sure. Um but as of right now, we take them in. There is no surrender. Phoebe, we just ask for a donation, okay? And we also have a volunteer who is willing to go to people’s houses as long as they’re within a certain radius. This trend picked them up. I mean, I love that every animal deserves right a place where they’re loved and cared for. And quite Fisher, no different. It’s just not something you typically hear, right, right? Yeah. I mean, they’re people’s pets. Yeah. Yeah, I definitely I definitely love that. So we know that that sidetracked is a little bit, but I am literally smiling ear to ear. I am love that, You know, you have this this place, right, this kind of murky pond and write it just kind of It was a pet project, and you guys were able to make that into something, right? Thio impact people in the community. And I mean, I really love that. Um, I love that piece of it. So thank you for thank you for sharing that terrible. So you had mentioned that you guys do 3500 animals per year? Yeah, the ratio is kind of a 60 40 split with dogs being, um you know the larger side of that So tell me a little bit about how you came to join Sterling and a little bit about your background. So I have been here at Sterling for about 14 years. Um, I worked at another shelter in Utah previously for about three years, and, interestingly enough, you know, I did not go to school to be an animal shelter manager, sir. Uh, it just sort of happened. I went to adopt a dog and, um, just fell in love with the place and asked if they were hiring, and I got hired. And I feel like it’s one of those things that once you start doing it, it just sort of it gets in your blood. Um, you know, it’s I’m one of those people that, like coming to my job every day. Um, and that’s hard to find. I feel like I’m super fortunate. Um, in that I get to do something that impacts animals, lives and people’s lives. And if I’m sitting up here at my desk and answering e mails, I could just get up in, go downstairs and play with some puppies. Yeah. What? That her life is there than that. Yeah. No, I definitely I definitely agree. Um, there is definitely a benefit to that for sure. So you worked in at a shelter in Utah, and then you made your way back to you, Massachusetts. Ah, and you’re going to their teams. So you’ve now been there for 14 years. What in that in that 14 year time span? What I have to imagine you’ve been a part of so many different programs and so many different stories. I’m curious if you have one program or one. I guess program is the is the word I want to use. What’s the one program that you’re most proud of in your time with? Um, I would have to say just for so for me personally. Um, even though I managed the shelter in general, I also spearhead the volunteer program and the foster program here. Well, and, um, you know, when I first hired on, I basically just kind of rebuild both of those programs. And I feel super proud about how they’ve evolved. And, um especially I would say the foster program mostly because it was almost non existent when I started here, and it’s a really, really good way for us to help more animals that, you know, because our our actual shelter building is pretty small. Um, you know, if I can get animals into foster homes and they could be cared for there, and then when a space opens up here, they come back and they get adopted. It’s just that many more animals, you know, that we can help. Um, and animals that might not otherwise be able to even come into the shelter. Um, such a CZ kittens that were too young to be adopted out. Um, you know, sometimes in our rescuing, we come across really shy or less socialized animals. Okay, Um, and being in a foster home can really benefit them to get some some socializing and some love. Really? Yeah, absolutely. Helped them get adopted. Yeah. Yeah. There’s something to be said about foster home programs, right? I mean, it’s it’s a hard thing when when an animal loses their human right, for whatever reason, and they go from this very loving, you know, nurturing home environment into into a shelter environment. And that’s a difficult transition. And so their personality has changed so quickly. Right? So, to your point, if you can get them back into a more natural environment. They’re thriving right there, growing there, there. They’re maintaining that love for that human connection and really, really does make all the difference. And we can see also and, you know, and it helps us if someone comes in. It is interested in that animal. And they just see them in that shelter environment where maybe they’re just ah, barking at their gains and and just really a, you know, have anxiety. Ah, we can say, you know, this animal was in a foster home, and it did great memories of the things that likes these were the things it doesn’t like. And, um, you know, it really just helps in general. Yeah. So talk to me a little bit. About what that that foster program looks like for you. Maybe. Where was it in, you know, when you during the team in 14 years ago and kind of what that progression looks like. And where you guys at now all kind of walk us through that. Okay, so, um, what I first started here, um, they kind of just handed me a folder with, like, three people’s names in it. Said is there are Foster’s. That’s quite the project, right? S. So I was like, All right, I’m gonna I’m gonna make forms. I’m gonna, you know, make this a little more official, sir Love. And I just I worked really hard, you know, and providing literature for people that are new to the foster program. And, um, you know, expanding on what types of animals certain people are willing to take on and what they prefer and stuff like that. So I really just sort of built it from the ground up. Yeah, I would, I would say, I mean, three is pretty much the same. A zero, right? At least in my book. I mean, there’s not not to discount those three people, but yeah, there’s I mean, there’s nothing there, right to your to your point. So had to be a lot of time and energy and research, right? Luckily, you had the background from Utah. Um, yeah, you know, kind of with Ugo to build that. So, where you guys at now? How many foster homes do you have? And really, what makes that program unique for you? So now I have so many applications for the Foster program. I have an entire binder full, and I haven’t even gotten to approve all of them yet. Um, I just have people applying left and right. Ah, which is great. And I would say, probably in my books. I probably have 50 foster homes, and one of the latest things that I’ve done is I started a ah shelter Foster’s Facebook page, Um, which makes it a little easier because I used to kind of just have everybody’s preferences kind of in my head, and I would just scroll through my binder and be like, Okay, I’ll call this person or I’ll call this person. And now I go onto the Facebook page and I say I have two kittens that need three weeks to gain some weight. Who wants them? Yeah, on you Watch the hands raise right. Hopefully everybody. Yes, it’s so much easier. Yeah, um, you know, and it’s It’s just gotten to the point where I just tried Thio make it a cz efficient as possible, But I still have, you know, it might sound weird, but one of the things, too. I think why it’s sort of my pet project and why I like it so much is that I have personal bonds with all of the foster families. Um, you know, I talked them through taking the animals into their homes. They email the updates or call me. Ah, they asked me questions, and I’m sort of with these animals through their entire foster period. Um, And then, you know, we scheduled them back for appointments, and then they go up for adoption, and they’re always asking me, you know, dough. Did this one get adopted yet? And yeah, you know, And I always ask them, you know, if if they want to include any sort of information with their email address to give to, the adopters were happy to do that. So I I just feel, um you know, a personal connection to a lot of the people, and it’s kind of the same thing with our volunteers to that our on site, um, we just have a really great group of people on. I would say I’m super proud of that. Yeah, Yeah, That’s one of the really cool things about the animal welfare industry. Right? Is is the connection to not just the animals but the people because part of what you have to do is build relationships, right? If it was all about the animals, you wouldn’t have people to care for them, right to get them adopted. And so you have to You have to like people. You have to want to be invested in them. And I do think there is a a good connection between, you know, volunteer program and in a foster program. I mean, they’re kind of one of the same, right? I mean, Foster Foster is volunteer as well. Correct. You know, they’re they’re a little different in what they dio. You know, I do think with the foster program it it does take a special person to be ableto foster right, Because you will have to share emotional. But you you can’t get too connected or you d’oh or you doing become that that I’m air quoting right that foster fail way. Say, yeah, yeah, but I do think it’s cool that you’ve been able to grow that, you know, over time. And I think that’s a really special thing when you can have that that personal connection with each of, um you know, we also talk about like compassion, fatigue and you as I’m listening to you. I’m like who? She’s very empathetic, right? Like that’s the That’s the reaction that I’m getting. And so with that, though, that’s a good and bad, because with 50 people, and that doesn’t even include your other set of volunteers. So how do you manage that, Melissa? What does that look like for you? So for me, you know, when I’m here at work, I’m 100% you know, Just go, go, go. But the way I have learned to deal with that is when I leave here, it’s my home life. And I have other people here who can answer questions when I’m not here. And I’ve learned to sort of let them Yeah, which is not easy. Todo it isn’t, um, you know, is sometimes you wantto I just They have every little detail and control it and stuff like that. But I have a four year old daughter at home and we’re busy at home, and it might take me a few hours to kind of decompress once I leave. But I have to Yeah. Yeah, and I think I think it’s a good reminder, right? And it doesn’t have to consume you. You can be all in, but you have to have something else that grounds you write something else to focus on. Because although animal rescue is, you know, often happy there are some sad. There’s a sand side to it as well, and you know, that kind of plays into it. So I agree that you have to have a balance, and it sounds like you have been able to do that. I’m still not quite sure how. But it sounds like you’ve figured it out for what works for you. Yeah. So one of the other things before we strayed too far is I want to know about the other programs that you guys have. That star Elaine, why don’t you tell us what else is available for your community? Okay, so we have a couple of things that were pretty neat. One of them is called seniors for Seniors on, and this is an adoption program. Other other shelters probably have it. Also, we will adopt out and a dog or a cat that is five years or older to any person that is 55 years or older at no cost, and we just feel like these animals and this subset of the community are well matched. You know, the costs that come along with the actual adoption or just waved another thing that we started quite a while ago. It’s called Spayr Mama. Okay. It is a program where if you this is we do it, we’ll do it with dogs. But mostly it comes into play with cats. If you have a cat and it is not spayed and it has kittens, if you turn over the kittens to the shelter to be adopted out, we will spay the mother cat for free and give her back to you. So you keep the kittens, you stay the mom. And then when they’re ready to be separated, you return the mom to the family. Is that how I understood it? So we will ask the people to, if possible, keep the kittens and the mom together in their home until the kittens they’re ready to be separated. Um, and in this So this is a way to stop the cat overpopulation problem. So, cause if the people who have the bomb cat just gave away the kittens, who knows if everyone else would spare. Neuter the kittens. So this way we know that kittens Excuse me. The kittens are being spayed or neutered and also adopted out into good homes. That’s a great program. It’s not one that I hear all that often. I think I’ve heard it one other time. Yeah, yours a little bit different. There’s, ah, a shelter in Wisconsin here that that has a similar a similar program. And so But again, you know, I’ve I’ve talked with several dozen and, you know, out of all of them, right, this is only the second time I’ve heard it. I mean, we’re fortunate to have our own bet clinic right here on site. Okay. At our shelter, which also is something that makes us a little bit unique, I think. Um, so we have a full time that we are able, you know, Thio sort of absorb the cost. I guess you could say of doing that. One spay at no charge for the owners. That’s definitely a great tool for sure. And I love the spay your mama. I mean, that z cute. Catchy, right? Like, people are like What do you What do you mean by that, right and that’s the whole life is Thio. Grab their attention toe. Ask the questions. Right toe, Learn more Spayr. Mama was actually in place before I even started here at the shelter. Our director is She’s been very progressive in the field of animal sheltering. She is willing to try things way before other people in the area will even think about it. Sure. So we were literally the first shelter in New England, I think, to start Ah, the transport programs So spare. Mama was already in place and when I did first start here, the cat overpopulation was out of control. It was just crazy. You know, our cat room here was always full. Um, stray cats surrendered cats, and in the summer, in the spring and summer, the kittens just pouring in the door were a no kill shelter. S o. Because of that, we are limited admission. Um, every animal that we take in gets to stay here as long as it takes to be adopted. So when we run out of cage space, we have to turn people away. And that used to happen a lot in the summer when people were calling us with the litters of kittens s. So that’s another reason, you know, for the foster program is we don’t have to turn as many people away that are in need of the, you know, care for the animals. Um so spare Mama was just something that I feel like we had to dio what I mean. And luckily, in the time that I’ve been here, I mean, the cat overpopulation problem has drastically reduced. We do take in stray cats still, but there it is. Nothing like what it used to be. Our count room is sometimes completely empty for a week at a time. That’s pretty impressive. So remind. So I know you mentioned the 3500 animals per year. How? And you mentioned that it’s a fairly small location. Tell me, how many how many animals do you keep in your physical location and maybe how many are in your foster home programs? We can kind of get an idea of what? That what that looks like in our main kennel. We have 20 runs we will have, and they’re they’re actually very large sized. So will house a litter of puppies together. Um, and then, you know you’ll get singles or doubles. I guess that capacity that could have, like a literal four or five puppies in every single run, which that’s sort of rare. And then we also have another smaller kennel area in our office building. It’s kind of separated where we can do some isolation if we have to kind of off track. But in Massachusetts, any animals coming into the state have to be quarantined for 48 hours before they can be adopted. So the way our shelter is set up, we have a lot of sort of separate sections. So it and that’s one of the reasons we’re able to do the transport programs because we can efficiently quarantine in that smaller dog area. We have five runs. I would say three would be the maximum we could put in each one of those runs Our cat room has. I believe 23 separate areas test separate cages, but those cages you more commonly see now where they have little port holes in the walls and go side to side or up and down. So if we have to like section them all off to the smallest, then they can be um, you know, then we have 2023 separate some guys for cats? Yes. I mean, that’s not a small as I was thinking. I mean, it’s still, you know, that house is pretty many pretty many animals. It’s it’s pretty efficient. It’s a small area, but it’s it’s set up while I believe. Yeah, it sounds like you guys have definitely maximized the space you’d mentioned. You know, the 50 Foster’s now, are those pretty much active all the time or is there a Is there an ebb and flow to that? They’re definitely not full all the time. Okay, They It’s definitely seasonal. I would say s o this time of year. We’re starting to get the cowl calls for kittens. You know, just today I took in three separate litters of kittens, two of which will probably need to go to foster care. I would say, you know, there are periods where I don’t have any animals in Foster. Okay, um, it’s really just dependent on what’s coming in and where the deed is. One of the things that you definitely mentioned and you’ve mentioned it a couple times, so I want to talk about it. is the is the transport. So tell me a little bit more about what you mean by transport and what that looks like for you. We have local surrenders for dogs here. Usually it sze a very rare occasion that someone calls us and wants to surrender a puppy or a litter of puppies. Sure, that really just doesn’t happen around here. So we have reached out to other shelters. Who do you have? Overpopulation problems. We work specifically with certain ones. Massachusetts does have very strict laws about bringing animals into the state. So Ah, one of the challenges that we face when we’re looking for a new shelter to work with is that they can meet the criteria that are state demands. Okay, which mostly involves vaccines, um, and quarantine time and things like that. One of the big pieces to transporting animals is that it is very expensive. Eso Not only do you have to pay for the actual transport, whether it’s via airplane or are air conditioned van or truck that’s driving for us, we have to help support the shelters that are getting these animals to us. Because the reason that we’re doing this to begin with is because these shelters can’t take care of the animals, right. So you know, how can you expect them to do extra, you know, without any support? It’s just to get them here to us. So all of that is built into our adoption fee because we are nonprofit, so we have to recoup all of that somehow. But it’s definitely not an easy thing to start doing. You really have to build a relationship with the shelter or group. That’s, uh, working on the other end, getting the animals ready to send up to you. You have to be able to trust them. There’s a huge, uh, trust factor when it comes to making sure the animals are healthy and friendly and, uh, medically taken care of. When we find a shelter to work with, we stick with them. We have been working with a couple of groups for quite a few years. The group in Puerto Rico. Ah, since before I started here, even we’ve been working with them and then the group in Virginia that we work twists. We used to take in 20 to 30 dogs and puppies every single week from that shelter and just Yeah, that’s crazy. That’s like, That’s a lot. We would fill our kennel every single week with dogs from from Virginia. Once you get them into your shelter, right and they go through that 48 hour quarantine cycle that you mentioned, how long from the time that they’re ready to be adapted until they get adapted like it is? It’s some crazy like 1/2 a day. People just like flock to you. Or is it a week like because you’re that’s a lot of So tell me what that looks like. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life, and we put all the pictures of the animals on the website and we put the pictures on before The quarantine period is up so people can see them ahead of time before they become available on the website, we assumed, as the pictures go on the website way, start getting the calls and the emails, and then it is just morphed into this thing where it has gotten earlier and earlier, where people who waited our gate for us to open it has gotten to the point where I’ve had someone come to the shelter in their car and park it our gate at midnight to adopt the next morning how that’s any just stay in their car and sleep. And then they moreover, Dunkin Doughnuts and you got to get your caffeine for the day. Sometimes state bring lawn chairs. I mean, it’s insane. So most of our animals are adopted extremely quickly. Um, you know, just yesterday we had I believe, about 12 puppies go up for adoption from Georgia. They were gone in a couple of hours. There’s a lot of thoughts in my head right now. It’s definitely a different problem. Toe have. And, you know, with your past in working in the shelter in Utah, I have to imagine that that was ah, more typical scenario for you, right? And then now, being back in Massachusetts, you’re You’re still kind of It almost seems like you’re still adjusting, right? You’re in awe even to this day. Like, tell me about the kinds of animals and what people are. I’m assuming they’re asking you for a certain type, Blake. How did How are you determining? In a way, we have some control, and in a way, we have no control. Okay? what pepper animals are available is what we’re going to take pretty much. But as far as sort of an efficiency standpoint goes, if you can take a litter of puppies in a crate versions or one dog in a crate, we’re gonna take the litter of puppies. There’s a little bit of that, but there is also ah, bit of we have adult dogs and cats here. Also, they just by virtue of, um, sort of the word of mouth that we have going on for this shelter. People know that we always have puppies. Okay, so the nice thing is, when we have adult dogs here, people come down and they look and, you know, the puppies could be like, all crazy and sure mouthing on them and eating their shoes. And then they look over and they see this two year old dog that’s just kind of sitting there. And we’re like, Oh, this one’s house trained And yeah, and they look over there like, Well, wait a minute. Yeah, Why didn’t I just look at this dog s Oh, it’s a really nice sort of thing that has happened to where people know we have puppies but they come here and the older dogs get adopted quickly to. That’s just because of the traffic. I’m It’s intriguing to me how that works. And I’m always fascinated when I talk to you organizations in the Northeast, because even though it’s a, it’s a common factor, right, they don’t have many animals to adopt. Their problem is always we have more people than animals, and that’s just that’s just not coming. But within each organization, there’s still different challenges. And, you know, one of the things that I I’m really taking away from this conversation with you is I’ve kind of laughed a little bit right during this, but it isn’t. It is a serious thing, and I I understand that. But I love that your working with other organizations and you’re not just working with your next door neighbor, right? Like your Yeah, I think you mentioned before we started recording that you’re working with organizations in Texas and but I also like that you’re recognizing it’s a money thing, right? You can’t just take from them and profit from that. I don’t mean just financially profit from that, but you know, there has to be a give and take relationship. So what did they get in return? You know, if you’re taking these animals, sure, we’re saving lives. But you have to think of it as a business transaction. Almost right. You kind of do. Yeah. I mean, you can’t survive if we don’t that you just can’t keep going. Just giving and giving and not sustaining somehow. So tell me so tell me what that looks like. I’m assuming it’s a lot of manual labor. It’s a lot of, you know, cold calling and trying to find organizations who understand. You know, you’re quarantine and that you need the vaccine and you have to have the paperwork and tell me what that looks like. And do you have somebody dedicated to that side of things for you? Ah, fortunately for us, we Onley search for a new group toe work with occasionally because once we do find a group that we really mesh with that everything just sort of works out. I have to say our director is tthe e instrumental person. When it comes to forming those relationships, she’s the one e mailing back and forth or texting back and forth or calling back and forth and organizing all of these individual transports. It’s a lot. It’s a lot of work. Not only is she the director of the entire shelter, but she does all of that transport work. So in the event that a group that we work with no longer can send animals to us, then we will kind of start reaching out to people. And honestly, it’s, you know, it’s the age of the computer in the Internet. So that’s what we do. We just go on and we look for shelters in areas that might not be able to adopt out, and we call them or email them and see if they’re interested in working with us. And that’s how it all starts. Thank goodness for for the Internet and technology, right? I mean, I can’t even imagine thumbing through like a yellow Pages or like I just I know right. It would be so difficult. And you have to wonder how they how they did that back in the day. I mean, it’s one thing to pick an organization and cold call them because that’s got its own, you know, disadvantages. Yeah, we definitely have, you know, some awesome tools at our fingertips. That sounds like you guys were using. So I love that when you find a group you stick with, um you know, I think that solidifies the relationship. I think that says a lot about you. As you, you know, wrap up one, right? Let’s say they run out of dogs. They’re doing great. You did your job right? Another to a sustainable place. You know where they are. Like, I don’t have to send your 20 or 30 dogs every week, you know? And then you move on to the next. So I definitely think the relationship building is a is a huge piece to that. So we kind of talked about the two programs. Then we got into transports. Did we miss any programs? In addition to the ones we talked about? We have a low cost spay neuter clinic on site here. So we also offer that to the public. Um, we’re not open for, like, regular checkups or vaccines. We just do. The spay neuter service’s okay. Massachusetts has a program. If they call it vouchers. And ah, we’re lucky enough to be one of the shelters that can host about your days. Um, so people get free spay and neuter for their pets that are paid for by the state. There are a lot of rescue groups and shelters in our area, and we offer low cost spay neuter service’s to those groups. Also, that’s very that’s very cool. And I love that the state of Massachusetts kind of gets behind that. I can honestly say that I’ve heard that before. If I have, it’s not something that that stands out. But you know what? That speaks to the rural state, you know, and their commitment thio the animal welfare industry. And I think that’s that’s really cool and really unique on then, for you guys to be a part of that. You know, one of the one of the things with organizations is, well, they all have struggles, right? I want to know from your standpoint, Is there anything that you guys air struggling with that you’re maybe focusing on it says probably cliche to say. But day today is a struggle from Ah ah, you know, it’s very we live in a very expensive state in general. Everything that we do costs a lot of money. Um, and that you know, so fundraising, I would have to say, is like any organization. It’s one of our main, you know, concerns. Um, because we don’t get any state funding or anything like that. It costs. I believe the director told me not too long ago that it costs about $2000 a day to run the shelter. And that’s, you know, that’s like everything you know, insurance and electricity and salary and everything. And that’s quite a bit of money. Adoption fees and surrender fees don’t cover that. Just being able to sustain, you know, with donations and stuff like that is something that we definitely struggle with. On a good note, that is probably one of the only things we struggle with. You know, I feel like the shelter itself is fairly well oiled machine. Yes, you could say, you know, we’ve got a lot of people here, have a lot of experience, and we’ve come across a lot of things that work really well for us. And, you know, things that don’t work well that we’ve discarded. Um, so I feel like that part of things is really ah pretty good for us. Sounds like you guys are nailing things, anything that you have coming up for the future, any any plans, any events, fundraising to have anything coming up in the calendar that people can participate in. Uh, you know, we I actually started a fundraiser a number of years ago that is near and dear to my heart, which I know it’s June, but it’s so it’s not really coming up, but we do. Photos would say it to every year here at the shelter, And, um, it’s gotten to the point where, for various financial reasons, we couldn’t do it last year. And I got so many e mails for people that were so sad, they’re like, Oh, no, you’re not doing it So I was like, We’ll be back next year. Yeah, So this year, we are going to set that back up and you are pet photos with Santa because it’s just a really you know, To be honest, it is a fundraiser. It’s not our best fundraiser. It doesn’t raise the most money. But it is something that we love to do and that people in the community love to dio es Oh, yeah, we’re going to do it. Yeah, very very cool. One of the things that actually not one of my favorite part of thes conversations is really memorable stories. And so you’ve got quite a bit of time in the animal welfare industry. And so I want to know your favorite memorable story. I’ve been thinking about this and to be honest, it’s it is kind of hard. There are so many things that that happen, you know, all the time. Honestly, a couple of my favorites have to do with animals that we didn’t think would be able to be adopted. There was one dog, one puppy in particular that comes to mind. He was a little shepherd mix, and he was so scared just cowering in the corner and not letting anyone touch him, just sort of like, you know, nipping out at people. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, what are we gonna do? Ah, we can’t even really touch him. And, um so, you know, being the shelter that we are, we always give the animals some time to cool off once they get here and just sort of adjust. He really didn’t get much better. So one day a couple came in We had a lot of puppies that day, and some people are just drawn. So the ones Yeah, that that that’s me, By the way, I’m over here with my hand in the year like me. Me, me. Like that’s Yeah, that’s what I want. So, you know, it took a monumental effort to even just get the puppy out so the people could meet the puppy. So what we finally did and then we got it out in the outside Penn so they could, you know, play with some toys and whatever on that, I started thinking, Oh, my gosh. How am I gonna get this drunk back in the building? Sure, because he was still just very shy, Very cowering. Yeah, and lashing out these people, for whatever reason, they just connected with him. They didn’t even get to touch him. And they said, we’re gonna take him, you know? And we have a process that we go through its we do same day adoptions here, but we, as adoption counselors, were asking people lots of questions about their situation and her if it’s gonna be a good home. And I talked to them a lot, you know, we stayed out there just kind of waiting for the puppy to give just a little bit. They just decided, you know, we’re going to give it a chance. And so I said, Okay, you know, it’s better than any other options I have right now. Yeah, you know, they were experienced dog owners, really nice people. We somehow got the dog into a crate. I don’t really remember how. Um, we did all the paperwork I sent him on their way. They were just super appreciative, Very friendly, you know, hugs all around. I think it was probably about a month later they called and they asked for me and they said, You know, he’s he’s starting to come around and I was like, That’s great. And then maybe, like a couple of months, Even after that, they came to the shelter with the dog in the car and they were like, You have to pat him. Yes, I am. He’s doing so great. And I just wasn’t disbelieve. He was just doing so amazingly so. Now they they’re great friends of the shelter, the people that adopted him, and they regularly come down so that we can see how he’s doing. They bring him by for visits and ah, they make donations every Christmas. And they’re on our Facebook page. And, you know, it’s just one of those things where I really was just having the sinking feeling that, you know, I don’t know what’s gonna happen with this dog. He’s we can’t even touch him. And they pulled it out. They worked a miracle on him somehow. So you know what? I really what I really like about that, Melissa, is the fact that it’s not like they took him home and miraculously, right. Like the next day. He was great and jumping around, right? They took him several months. Thio really work with him and build that trust in that relationship. And, you know, that says a lot about about people, right? I think this is almost more Apia. People story, You know that? An animal story. But you know, you sure you need to have that the illusion that would not do that, right? Yeah. I mean, they would turn him in the next day, right? The Yep. So, again, I thank you for sharing and thank you to those incredible people who are out there. And not just that couple, but all of the ones you know that have the patience and the dedication to to do that One incredible story and then the fact they bring him in and you can visit and see. And, you know, I just there’s something really special about that. Yeah, I think so too. Yeah. So we’ve kind of talked a little bit about a lot today, and I appreciate it. I feel like I learned a lot about the state and about your shelter. Specifically, Is there anything else that we may be missed that you wantto talk about before we wrap this up? I feel like we we pretty much talked about a lot. D’oh! Here. Yeah, Yeah, I definitely I definitely think so. But we definitely will be following you guys on social media. Yeah. Why don’t you just tell everybody where you can be found what platforms? And then if they need to get in touch with you and have questions, or if they’re looking to adopt that cute puppy, where can they reach you guys? At best place to get all the information about us is our website. Um and that’s just www dot sterling shelter dot or ge. We are also on Facebook. I believe it’s just under sterling. Shelter it. If people are looking for us online just googling us. It is a little confusing because are technically our name is animal shelter ink. But we are in the town of Sterling, so people just call us the Sterling Animal Shelter. Okay, so you may see us is Animal Shelter Inc also, But yeah, I believe we are on Instagram and Twitter also. Okay, I don’t know the details of those accounts, though. Way know that Animal Shelter Inc is the true name, right? But they also find you through starts through Sterling’s definitely make sure to follow you guys and, you know, look for those future events. And I think you guys are doing amazing things and just thank you for joining me today. Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It was really great. Thanks for tuning into today’s podcast.  If you’re not already a member, join the ARPA to take advantage of all of the resources we have to offer.  And don’t forget to sign-up with Doobert.com. It’s free and helps automate the most difficult tasks in animal rescue. 

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