Animal Shelter of the Week: Episode 25 – Humane Society of Western Montana

The Humane Society of Western Montana does a wonderful job caring for the animals in their shelter, boasting a 98% adoption rate. There are 3 components to their adoption program – Seniors for Seniors, Buddy Adoptions and Headed Home Reservation.  They also have a wonderful foster program called “H.O.P.E Foster” and each animal that enters their facility receives the necessary medical and behavioral evaluation prior to being adopted out.

Check out their website today to learn more!


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 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 Humane Society of Western Montana was incorporated in 1963 and they’re committed to saving every animal every time by being a leading resource for pretending animals and their people throughout western Montana. Due to the awareness and care of their community, they guarantee the adoption of all their adoptable pets. And on average, they helped save over 1300 animals each year. And they’ve maintained an adoption rate of 98%. Hey, Marta, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for having me, Rachel. Yeah, I’m really excited to have you. And so you are with the Humane Society of Western Montana, located in Missoula. And so why don’t you start us off and tell us a little bit about your organization? So we are a five a one C three nonprofit and serving western Montana, which is a beautiful area of Montana. We’re committed to saving every animal every time by being a leading resource for companion animals and their people throughout western Montana and the mission, you know, to put it, take it from its original statement and put it in my own words. It’s very important to us to give our community what our community wants and needs, and we’ve been around since 1963 and so we try to meet the changing needs on a regular basis. We serve. Approximately 14 to 1500 animals at this time on DDE have at least a 98% adoption rate, nearing Maur to 99 to 99.9. Most recently, it’s pretty awesome to things that really stand out to me. One is the longevity right? 1963. So if I did the math right 55 ish years, I think 56 maybe that’s a long time in animal welfare and so that’s really awesome that you have the support you need from the community and the dedication from, you know, staff and volunteers on Dhe, Then the other thing that really stood out to me was the fact that you guys are above 98% more. More recently, 99% right? It sounds like so tell me a little bit about your journey with the organization. How long have you been with them? What’s your role? Well, my personal journey goes back, Um, over 20 years to when I first moved from the Bay San Francisco Bay area to Missoula. And I’ve always been an animal lover. And the first event that I ever attended in Missoula, Montana, was a fundraising event for the shelter. And I fell in love with the people that were at the event and the mission, and it just all felt so accessible to me. And I wanted to just reach out and help. And so my first effort was to foster animals, and at that time there was no foster program which has changed significantly. Sure. And I just will never forget that, you know, the executive director said, Well, we don’t have a foster program and I said, Well, let’s start a foster per S O s. So we did. And that’s kind of the spirit of the organization, like Oh, right, OK, let’s Let’s try that. I’m for a long time. You know, I was a complete foster. Fail with the kid with the mom, cats of the kittens. I ended up with three mom cats very quickly, then moved into fostering puppies. And for many years we were a foster family before for puppies and mom dogs and that kind of thing in that one thing led to another. Ultimately, I served on the board and was chair of the board. And then once I turned out of that, I I served on the legislative Committee, which I could serve on indefinitely and sort of did. And then the position for executive director came open three years ago, and I applied for it. And I have been the executive director since that time. Tell me what it waas specifically about. Humane Society. Western Montana That that drew you in Wasn’t the community, was it how they cared for their animals like tell? Explain to me what’s so special about them that you stuck around for so long. And now here, their executive director, I think part of it is just understanding them community of Missoula generally. And there’s a CZ expressions about living in Missoula. You know you take 1/3 of your salary and scenery and give a 30 or sell a salary to nonprofit. Okay, we are a very community driven area. There are many nonprofits. It’s one of the leading employers in our immediate area. Everyone likes and believes it’s part of their role to serve their community here. And so just generally speaking, that’s something you learn pretty quickly when you move here. And then I will say that I had always wanted to be engaged with an animal welfare organization. But the pace that I was a life that I was living didn’t allow me to do that. It’s a little slower here in Missoula. Sure, so the pace helped, but also the people at the Humane Society. I think one of the things that’s really important and it’s even in our mission statement now is that it’s not just about the animals, it’s about people’s relationship with animals, and I will say that there’s 1/3 component that it has been happening and organically over time. But more intentionally is that it’s also the animals relationship to the people and the environment that we live in I love everything that you said. I love that. It’s about the community, the piece of life, the people I love, that it’s part of the culture. So tell me a little bit about Missoula. Oh, so our communities a university town. We have the University of Montana here in Missoula. It’s a very outdoor, recreationally oriented town. We have three rivers just in our immediate area. So as you can imagine, summer is a very busy time. We also have a ski area. So you know, we always say it’s nine months of winter. Three months of visitors, people who live here. They’re here for the outdoors and most everyone wants and has at least one companion animal sure thio to enjoy. Ah, it’s a very important part of who we are. There’s a lot of places where you can recreate with your dogs off leash, and then downtown is fairly friendly. Thio on leashed dogs and I would say that there are many people who visit with their pets and we do have a pet friendly hotels. But we’re not one of those communities where wth e pets are literally everywhere and in every business. Okay, you know So it’s It’s more of a rural recreational community where folks are out and about with their with their dogs and cats are certainly a huge part of our population. There are many cats that are both free roaming and, you know, indoor cats and that kind of thing. So you’d mentioned the free Romy and tell me about what that free roaming cat situation looks like for you guys. Yeah, so you asked if it’s a it’s a problem or not. And you know, I would say it’s both in our community, so people are loving and caring toward the pets in our community. It’s a very animal friendly community, and people do feed cats frequently. And, you know, there was not this feeling that all cats need to be kept inside by the general public. I will say on the flip side of that that in the state of Montana, and I know this from the statewide directors calls that our monthly there is a growing cat population. So you know, feral and free roaming social cats are just exploding in our area and every shelter that I talked to this spring, first of all, the litter season started way earlier. We’re just seeing so many more cats. So we’re we’re really all of us have stepped up our efforts with spay neuter. We’re really trying thio duty in our and keep the cat population under control. But I think it takes a more concerted effort in our community and we’re not quite there yet. What is a particular challenge right for the either the community under the animals and I think you you mentioned just that It’s It’s the feral cat population that you guys are seeing an increase in population in. So it’s already something that that you recognize, right, and it’s ah, I’m assuming it’s gonna be a focus, you know, going forward for you. Is that something that you’ve kind of socialized with the public and are the onboard with you in getting that under control? I think that the public is mostly onboard with us in getting that under control. It’s a complicated issue and I think that when you have multiple agents, we have multiple agencies in our area that are involved in Spain, it er and T and our efforts. We are the primary organization that has the capacity to do more tan are. It’s just a little bit challenging to Thio. Sometimes work within the city to get it done. Sure, so there’s, you know, so we can offer it more easily right now outside the city and county, which is fine with us. There’s plenty of certain work to be done everywhere. Yeah, so, um, I would say, though, that it’s hard because it takes quite some period of time and I’m sure that other people are have the same problem toe educate on the benefits of TNR A lot of still, we have many people who want to bring in the feral cats, but they don’t want to take them back. Sure, of course, we can adopt them out. So it’s a matter of education in time. Yeah, but we’re working hard on it. Part of the challenge is always watching what’s going on in your community right? Hoping that the community is engaged and asking for help right and identifying problems that need your assistance and into your point. There are definitely a lot of pieces to the puzzle. You can’t complete the puzzle without without one piece of that. And so, of course it takes time and education is it is a huge piece of that. So speaking of education, I want to spend a few minutes on all the different resource is that you guys have in the different service is that you offer to your community. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you guys have to offer? Oh, I would love to do that way. Have many different programs from a behavior hotline to children’s camps. We have I spoke before about a vibrant foster program. But we also do field trips and sleep over date with a dog camp for cats. And we also have a clinic for low income. So we you know, not a it’s not a spay neuter clinic, but we offer vaccines and a wellness check once a month, as we are able. So we have. Ah, we try to offer a large array of resource is to our community. Yeah, so you named so many of them and I know that’s not all of them. I’m looking at your website, and there’s so much more that you guys offer. So why don’t you pick? Um I know it’s gonna be hard, but why don’t you pick the top? Why don’t you pick three programs? And let’s talk about him a little bit more in depth so that the community and others around the nation can actually hear what you guys are doing? Ah, couple of years ago, we engaged in a study actually of the effect of sleepovers on dogs, so their cortisol levels did lower their stress. Did it raise their stress? Is it a good thing or not? A good thing Toe. Allow animals to go overnight, that kind of thing. Sure. What we learned is that it’s it’s a good thing. Primarily after two nights, they there’s thirst. Stress levels go down when they come back to the shelter. Their stress doesn’t go up as high as quickly, and often times they are adopted because they’re more relaxed. They’re not, you know, barking and stressed out. And so we found that the sleepovers were incredibly helpful, And so now we have a regular sleepover program, so you can comment. Check out a dog and it can go home with you. And one of the biggest benefits of this program is that we learn so much about the animals. So because we are a transfer partner. Oftentimes pets come to us. We don’t know very much about tthe um, so we don’t know if they can ride in a car. We don’t know how they are in a home. We don’t always know how they are on a leash. So what happens is when someone comes back from either a sleepover or just a date, they give us all kinds of information. We have these really cute forms that they fill out. And then those forms actually live on the kennels so people can see what’s been said about them. When I went on the loose leaf overall, next date I played with a friend. I went and I was a couch potato on the couch. Or, you know, I went to the park and I chased butterflies. You know, all those kinds of things go on our sheet, and it really helps with adoption, and it helps us help make matches with people. And that’s been amazing. Cats, on the other hand, don’t you know, they we didn’t do a study with them, but we know they don’t like to be moved around as much with cats. If we have a cat that’s been a longer term resident for one reason or another just isn’t getting out of the shelter. We will send it on to camp, which is longer, so a minimum of two weeks. And because we do have some folks that air here seasonally, sometimes they will come and take a cat out for a little while. And we often will do that with older cats, especially since right now it’s kitten season and it’s hard sometimes for those older cuts to get adopted in our community. And I think this is happening in a lot of other communities. Um, there’s this double edged sword of animal care is becoming so much more nuanced. You know, we can do many. We can run any more tests. We can do ultrasounds, weaken do C T scans. We can do surgeries that we couldn’t do 20 years ago or even 10 years ago or five years ago, and that’s fantastic. But it drives the cost of care at all levels up, and I think that we have experienced that in our community. It drives the cost of basic care up. What that means there can mean is that people are not getting wellness checks for their animals, and they’re not getting the shots that they’re animals need. And then they’re showing up at the E clinic with diseases that you know, like parvo that could have been prevented. And it’s thousands of dollars later to address that, we started a pilot program offering free wellness care on an appointment basis at our shelter once a month. We did the first program, and that went was well received. We had some kinks to work out, like we started with a 45 minute appointments and we realized we could do them in 20 and people really were so grateful. We did one in December of last year, and I’m certain I’ve never been thanked so many times in my life. It was quite moving. And so we have continued that we offer it, but that our shelter and then at a school in town because we’re not easy to get Thio And so I didn’t want our location to be a barrier for care, so we’re actually partnered with the school district to offer it at one of the schools. That’s so awesome. So I saw a couple comments on on both of the sleepovers and camps. Tell me how that came about. How did you guys, You know, you said you were part of a study. Did somebody come to you and ask you to participate? Was there a called action where you guys were like Oh, yes, this is something we want to learn more about. And how did you spread the word in the community? And how is that received? So those air, really good questions. So we Carol College is a cull of private school in Montana and they have They were doing the study. They were running the study. They had partnered with us on other things and asked if we would be willing to participate. We were not, by any means the only shelter that did it. Sure, we were close to them. So we were a natural fit. We. But what we had to do for the study was bringing in many dogs over time. So, like 30 in some small number of weeks. And it was more than once. And then we had to send them out with all these volunteers, and the volunteers then had to collect urine samples, not just once a day, right? Look, we promoted a study and it was insane response. So the citizens science interest in our community, it’s just people loved it. Everyone wanted to be part of it, and we had no problem finding volunteers to do it. It was really exciting and fun. I think our community, they really enjoyed it. Where are we realized that it has to be part of our future. So research and science is definitely a component that we want to keep as carve our programming. And that’s exactly what we did that Maddie’s Fund actually ended up doing the research for the, um, date with a dog. So just the field trip study is what they called it, okay? And I don’t think that they’ve published any results on that yet. But they actually ran that study last summer on, and we participated in that as well. Very cool. I love that. You know, you guys are always looking for new, innovative ways and that you have relationships built within the community so you can continue. You know, the new research and and trying to find different statistics right to prove what’s good and what’s healthy for these animals. How long has the sleepovers in the camps been in effect and off the animals that you have in your care? How often do they go on sleepovers or two week camp sessions? It depends. It’s very animal dependent. And who’s in our shelter at any given time? Okay, there are some pets that can’t go, so let’s talk about dogs because that’s primarily where we’re doing sleepovers and dates. If an animal in our population can easily be sent out, then they could go very far, as long as there are volunteers that want to take them. We don’t were strict how many days they can go. They just have to. We just kind of like for them to be in the shelter during our open ours so they could be adopted. Sure, but let’s if somebody wants to come pick up a pet toward the end of the day and bring it back the next morning before we open. Great. That’s fantastic. If we have pets that are stressed, need a break from the shelter, but they’re not sort of your average could go with anybody. Pet. Sure, no, there higher needs. We have volunteers that just take those dogs, okay? And they might take those dogs for three or four days if we really see a need for stress reduction. Okay, so it’s very animal dependent. We are looking at the animal itself and what it’s needs are on in terms of a date with a dog. That’s pretty easy, because that’s just pick it, pick up the dog, take it for a couple hours, sure and bring it back. And you know, if somebody comes and is looking for that particular animal because they they saw it on the website. Usually there are times when they might be out on a date when we’re open. But we try to keep the animals in the building, Sure, but it’s always this balance, right? So I have someone who manages the program, and she’s always trying to strike the right balance. Sure, and she has a really good job. So So if anybody in Missoula is interested in participating in this or taking them out for a day or a sleepover, what is the process for them? How did they get in touch with you guys and is there an application to fill out? How does that work. Yeah, so they could just go to our website, which is www dot my h s w m dot org’s. They can look. They can look on that and see about our over program, and they can certainly call, you know, call the shelter at 5493934 and ask for Meredith, who is the coordinator of the program. And there’s a volunteer. There’s just a little orientation for it. It’s really not hard to be involved in it, but we just like to go over. Sort of what? Here’s what the process looks like. And here’s what you’re going to be doing. Here’s where you should go and should go with the animal because we don’t like for our dogs to be taken to, like this enormous dog park and taken off leash. So we kind of will want them to be put on leash. And then, of course, they have their backpack. And there, you know, their shirt that they were yeah and all that. Yeah. I mean, the whole point is to get them adopted, right? So you want to talk sure that they’re equipped with, you know, equipped with all the right tools. Yeah, they have to have their gear that says adopt me. Yeah. I mean, you don’t have that. What’s the point? Yes, yes. Yeah. That’s definitely a huge piece to that. So very cool program everybody has. You know, based on the community, there are slightly different needs. So interesting that you guys have, Like, you said, the dogs are more popular than the cats. But I like that. The cat option, right? The camps, you know, is an option as well. And that’s something I can’t honestly say that I’ve heard of before. Mostly, it’s it’s dogs. So I like that you’re incorporating both pieces of that because shelter life is is stressful for both types of animals. So I think it’s important. It really is. And, you know, I have to give credit where credit is due and that that came from one of the veterinarians in the University of Wisconsin program who who suggested Well, you know, what about some of the cats that have been around for a little bit longer? What about sending them out for a little while? You know, we don’t do that all that frequently because for two reasons one. The Cats don’t like it as much into is that it’s harder to get folks to come and do that because there’s a longer commitment. But we have done it in the it does work. I mean, it does. If they’re cats, can leave and just go get some special attention for a couple of weeks and come back then Nobody’s thinking. Well, why has that cap in here for a long time? Right. So we’re always trying to think of ways to reduce the length of stay, and that’s one of the suggestions. And we thought, Well, that’s brilliant, So yeah, no, it it is pretty brilliant. Um, and I said it before, but most of the times it is dog. So it’s nice that you guys are thinking about the cats as well. I do want to talk a little bit about the other program, which is a big one, and so the free wellness care. Once a month that you guys were doing, I want to know how that came about and tell me a little bit more about that. So it came about because I went to one of the HSUS Conferences Expo in Kansas city. And there was a lot of discussion at that time about the intersection of social justice and animal welfare. You know, what is animal welfare? E social justice issue? And hsus has, you know, the pets for Life program. And I really like that program. But it felt daunting to be honest for organization. Sure, Um and yet I wanted to come back, and I had been recognizing for quite some time that the need was in our community and I just needed the inspiration, I think, to get something started and came back and talked with my team about it. And everybody was hugely supportive. And no, of course we went through those questions off. Are the veterinarians going to be mad in our community? And, you know, how are we going to manage this? And we just decided We just need to try like we just can’t We can’t wait. It’s needed in our town. So we just kind of did it. And we have a veterinarian on staff. And so she stopped the program with that text. Sand. I will say that the first time we did it, it was the most overstaffed program time. Normally I hear opposite nor my years understaffed because everyone wanted to do it. You know, everyone wanted to see what it was gonna be like, and everyone wanted to help. And it was so with. It was just really funny because we had everyone from our bet Tax Two volunteers sent the development officer myself. It had some unexpected results, and we made it. We decided to model our program around some community service for people that that is offered in Missoula, which is sort of this one stop option for people who need help getting a job that could go get job counseling, They could get close, they could get a haircut. And we sort of said, Well, could we do something like that around this wellness care? And we decided that, yes, we could. So we decided we would offer Rabies vaccines, you know, all wellness vaccines. We would dio a microchip collar and leash and some food and some behavior consultation to try to make it so that people only needed to come one time because it’s hard to find time. So we offered all these things. We quickly learn dot not everyone. Most people were coming not needing the behavior, help or not knowing that they needed the behavior help. So we kind of switched. So we had our behaviorist there all day, so we switched that to just asking people if they needed that for their appointment when they call to make their appointment. One of the things that we learned was that it’s nice for the staff to be able to do these programs because it feels very giving back to them the people who are involved in animal welfare. And we talk about compassion, fatigue all the time and, you know, sort of what to do about it. And it turned out that this actually really helped. Of course, it was well received in the community and people were quite surprised. And that is my favorite thing. Toe watches when people come in the door. They don’t know what to expect, right, and they’re greeted with a doughnut and coffee. How can we help you? And by the time they are leaving, they’re talking about their putt. They’re sharing their stories, their feeling cared for and their pets just look so happy. And it’s just it’s a beautiful thing to be able to offer. So it’s it’s been great and we got a little bit of grant money so we can continue to offer one a month through this year and I’m just fingers crossed. We’ll be able to get more grant money next year. One of the things that I really liked about this is the fact that you went to an HSUS Expo you heard about, you know, you went to one of their sessions, you heard what they had to say. You liked components of it, and you kind of took that. You morphed it into something that you thought would work for the community and I that that type of innovative thinking has always intrigued me, right, Because not everybody has to take the same program and implement it right there. They’re variations of things on different components that you can pull that that work best for your community. And I love that. That’s the approach that you you took to this. So how does somebody in the community go about making an appointment with you guys? So we try to keep the process as simple as possible. We don’t believe that someone should have to go through a lot of paperwork to prove that they’re poor. Sure, Um, we think that that’s really not where the type of organization that we want to be, and so we we really do it based on an honor system, but we also so we have the income parameters. But we also make it very clear in our statement that we recognize that financial hardship can come very quickly and for any number of reasons, Yes, and so you We expect that if you have financial hardship, that you will see car service is, and we’re not gonna try to define that for you. And we further expect that if you’re not having financial hardship that you’ll seek out. The service is of a regular veterinarian. Sure is really how we go about it. And so really, all they need to do is call us. We do advertise in the areas, the demographic areas that we try to serve way also ever. We also post on Facebook, which, surprisingly, really is how people want to get information, right? You know, like we were worried. Oh, if we just post on Facebook, we’re not going to reach everybody. And so we do do we D’oh A variety of things, you know? So we go to the head start school and we try to advertise their and we’re always talking about how to reach our population. We even went and put out flyers in a certain areas. All they need to do is call us and that it’s that simple. Yeah. I mean, I love this. I really do. I love the simplicity and that I love that you trust the community, right? And that you’re basically saying in a nonjudgmental fashion, right? If you need help, come to us. Um and that’s something that I don’t know that I’ve really ever heard before. A lot of times, people want a pre screen and qualify and be the deciding factor, right? Yes, you’re qualified. But you’re not. And I love that you’re basically saying to people in Missoula. Look, if you need help, we’re here to help you, right? But if you don’t need help, believe those resource is for those that do need assistance. I’m gonna guess because you’ve done a couple of these now that that that’s received really well by the community and it Let’s be honest, I feel like it empowers people to make those decisions, and that, as a human is really important. Yeah, I I think it’s extremely important, and I think we have accepted as a group that maybe there will be people who come in who could possibly afford to pay for service is, you know, it’s few and far between, right? And that is not. You don’t design a program around the people who were not acting in good faith. You design a program around the people who need it interacting in good faith. Hopefully, someday if they can, they’ll pay it forward. No, I love. I love your faith in the community and the and the people right, And I think that that speaks volumes for your organization and, quite honestly, the entire community around you guys. I really think it’s incredible. And that was beautifully stated on, and I couldn’t agree more in animal welfare. I find it interesting that we don’t work together as often as we showed. For example, I hear that rescues work with shelters right, because rescues helped the shelters pull the animals off the euthanasia list and find them homes and foster situations. I don’t often hear of rescues, working with rescues or shelters working with shelters. And so I’m curious on what your partnerships look like with other Let’s just say organizations within your community or within your state, do you work with other rescues or other shelters? The short answer to that question is yes to both great. We work with rescues and other shelters in our state. We work with rescues in that we tend we do transfers from rescue organizations to our organization. Most specific with the highest volume is from Rescue in Fort Belknap. Okay, we take a lot of transfers from them, a significant number. We also we have a state. Why directors network There We have monthly calls and we talk about topics of interest to the shelters. And it’s organized by the heart of the Valley Shelter in Bozeman. And they do an awesome job organizing it. It’s a really vibrant network and becoming more so, especially this year, and I and I think that we were together in Montana really very well. I think that one of the reasons that the network is growing in the state of Montana is partly because of just Montanans, and we like to work with each other things partly also because of ah, two things the Northern Tier Shelter Initiative program by the S. P. C. A. And that provides a lot of support to organizations in our state and then the University of Wisconsin shelter, medicine and shelter leadership programs, which are really just bringing a lot of vibrancy to our state in particular. And I’m sure other Northern tier states as well and bringing us together around, you know, it’s common themes, common topics they often will present on our directors calls. And it’s really it’s quite an incredible program, and I think it it’s a part and parcel to why more and more shelters are collaborating in the state of Montana. Part of the reason I asked, obviously as I stated, is just that I don’t hear enough about, you know, organizations working together, And I’m truly fascinated by the commitment of each of the organizations in this group, you know, in the state of Montana, I don’t quite know how that how that came about. I do love that the shelters in Montana actually get on these monthly calls, and you guys were talking about the problems and things you’re seeing in the community and you’re leaning on each other to really figure out the bigger problem, right? And not every shelter is in the same category as you, meaning that you know, not everybody has that 98 to 99% adoption, right? That’s that’s incredible. And so I think what other organizations can learn is how you got there. What were your missteps, right? What were your challenges and in hopes that they can get their that much quicker? And I just feel like sometimes that’s a missing piece with organizations. Is we’re not having that open dialog. We’re not making that connection, you know? We’re so focused, you know, looking through that magnifying glasses. Sometimes we forget to look up and think about other organizations or think about the different ways that we can accomplish saving more animals quicker. Yeah, I think that is really true. I love what you just said about looking up. It’s really can be very difficulty for shelter leadership to to look up because we are so engrossed in the day to day right. And I am lucky in that I have a lot of staff, so sometimes I can but some of the smaller, more rural shelters, I mean, because they’re doing it all right like their leadership is cleaning kennels and cages and, you know, brushing out catnaps, right? They don’t. It’s hard. And so that’s where I think it’s just so important to look up occasionally and and ask for help or see what’s going on. I understand the day to day, especially like you said in your smaller rural locations. It’s difficult to do that, but I think you know it’s part of the growth, and it’s part of what needs to happen in order to save more animals. And yes, it’s this industry is not easy. I don’t think I don’t think I’ve met one person who said, I love this and it’s super easy. Everybody has challenges and like you said, you’ve either gone through them or you’re going through them or you well and I just think that’s part of the draw in this industry is that we like a good challenge. We want to feel good about what we’re doing. We want to help not only the animals, but the people in our community, and we all have that in common. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rescue if you’re a shelter. If your rural if your urban it it doesn’t matter. I feel like there’s common pieces in each of us, you know, and that’s right. That’s where I just want us to work together and understand the challenges and support each other. I just feel like it’s so important and I think we’re getting better. But I still think we have a long ways to go. So I know is we get close toe to wrapping up here. I do have a couple more things that I wanna. I want to talk about one of them and I guess they kind of tie in together. One. I want to know what your fundraising looks like. They’re in Missoula, and then also, what do you have if anything coming up in the future, whether it be events or fundraisers? Yeah, so you know, course fund raising for our organization is always a big challenge. One of the biggest and you know, we we do have an incredibly giving community and with a history, you know, in over 55 year old mystery, that’s incredibly helpful to us because we have a large base of supporters, the elderly supporters who send in $5 a month. And that’s, you know, such a maximum amount of money. I just I’m so grateful for that because every penny makes a difference to our organization. I mean, really, it does. And then I have no larger donors who are serious philanthropists and have the capacity to be able to give it a larger level. But we’re always trying to expand that because obviously we’re always trying to expand our programs. And when we you know, for example, when we did the pilot program, we had no money for that program. Sure, for the outreach program, we had no money, and I didn’t know if we would get a grant and be ableto ever do it again. The funder was a local grantor, um, local foundation, and so we do have foundational support as well. Obviously we’re not attacks based organization, so we don’t have any public support. It’s our long term existence and good work in the community. That probably is what drives our fundraising the most. Okay, we do. Due to large events a year, one is called the Canine Classic, and that’s coming up in October, and it’s really super fun. It’s out at the Paws Up resort, which is a stunning resort we have on off leash two and 1/2 mile, five mile in half marathon through this incredibly beautiful wooded area and then a barbecue afterwards and not spin a friend razor and a fund raiser for us. For Jesse, it’s wonderful, and we appreciate what paws up does for us so much. And then we also have an awards ceremony in the spring of every year where we honor a community member that has demonstrated an outstanding commitment toward animal welfare. We have an adult award and ah, youth award for that, and that’s that’s our largest fundraising event, and it’s really quite emotional. Tiu See the people that received the award and what they have done in animal welfare. It’s just, I mean, mind boggling, what one individual can d’oh! And we like to honor those people in our community. It’s very well attended. Yeah, those are those are our two primary events. Sometimes people think that they need to do an event every month, right, and I love that you’ve kind of stripped it down to three right. You have your one and spring and then the canine classic. And then you’re half marathon. I’m and they’re very focused. And you it seems like you have, you know, a goal in mind for what you want to achieve with with each of them. And I think that’s just a cz important, you know, and having those re occurring donations, you know, like you said over the course of 55 years, right? What you’ve been able to build and establish yourself as in the community is is really, really important. So we are definitely are over our time. But I my favorite part and I never miss it is I want to know what your memorable story is. I know people have hundreds and thousands of them, and I’m always looking for that one special story that that just impacted you, one that you never forget. This is the story of a dog who actually has her own instagram account. Okay? And her name is Pearl. And probably there’s somebody listening. Who knows who pearl is? Pearl came to the shelter around Christmas time this last year she waas so obese was a bagel. She is a beagle so obese that she could not stand up, walk or relieve herself? No man, as sometimes happens with owners, you know, the owners. Health failed, and then the dog’s health suffered us. Where are and so then, you know, family stepped in and I did the right thing and brought Pearl to us and, you know, looking at Pearl in her health, I was not at all sure that she would survive. I did not think that she would make it in the shelter setting and was I was very concerned about her. But we took her in because that’s what shelters do, right? Yeah, You expressed your concern in your angst and you worry death in them. And the veterinarian across the street from us. Doctors are Belle from animal Blessings said, You know, I’ll support you with whatever her medical needs are. I think obesity is for number one problem and I will support you. And so Pearl started this weight loss program. That’s kind of the beginning of the instagram story. Literally. We could only have her walk, maybe 10 steps in the shelter when she first came. So there was lots of office time and lots of love. And, you know, Pearl could barely do anything except wag her tail and look atyou adoring like she turned out to have a injury to her hip. Probably because of her weight. Sure. So then we were in this catch 22 positions. It hurt her toe walk, but she had to walk to lose weight before we could do the surgery. Right? It’s too risky. So we had this, like, complete like, other. This was, you know, angst, Session number two. Um, what are we gonna D’oh? And we just all decided what we We have to have him lose weight and then, you know, in steps, doctor number two or three. Who says I’ll do the surgery? Okay, so, you know, this incredible community and village just circled around Pearl, who just was so just she just warmed your heart because she she had such heart, you know, she would just get up and walk, no matter what. So we Finally she lost the 10 pounds she needed to lose, and we got the surgery, and then there were complications with the surgery and that required more veterinarians. And they’re required that she stay the night every night at the vet’s office and then come to us during the day. So was when she finally recovered from that, was back to office, rest for a while and then back to the weight loss program. And then, at one point we got in another dog that also needed a pretty significant weight loss program so they would bottle around the middle of it. Listen in there or what? That’s cute. Way We all need a partner, don’t we? Yes, and they were adorable together on and and that dog was adopted. Pearl still had a lot of medical needs going on. But what would have what? The other thing that happened was that Onley way that we could really help Pearl through this waas through water therapy on DSO, the local Montana water dogs stepped in to provide free water therapy for her. So it’s just the story goes on and on. And it’s a story about Pearl and her, her resiliency and her her just her great attitude. And you know what we see in so many dogs, which is their their level of forgiveness, right? And their drive, and then the other half of it is. The community, like everybody was stepping forward to help Pearl. One of our employees, in particular, was doing of above and beyond just everything that she could. And her name is Jesse, and we all knew that Pearl was going to go home with just on. So the happy ending is that Pearl started at 50 pounds. She is now at 25 pounds, Amazing a and she is doing really well. She has gone and been adopted by Jesse, and one of her favorite pastimes is Paddleboarding. Oh, that’s so cute. That’s on the paddleboard. Oh, man, I love it. I love it. Yeah, I mean, that story encompasses everything that I that I always kind of hoped for, right? It’s It’s about the animal. It’s about the organization. It’s about the volunteers and the community. It’s a great full circle story about even including the family who had to make a hard decision. But do the right thing like it all strikes there, and that’s a hard thing to to do. And so, yeah, I love every stuff about that. From the beginning to the end, and kudos to Jesse first stepping in and helping out pearl from the from the get go, and sometimes you just meet that special dog or they meet that special human and you just know right? What’s yes, coming. So that’s really awesome. Thank you so much for sharing. I love that story. We definitely talked about a lot today. Is there anything else that we may be missed that you want to mention before we before we wrap this up? I guess I just would really like to say how much I appreciated being able to work with the University of Wisconsin through their shelter leadership program and that that’s a program that’s open to shelter leaders across the northern tier. And it’s it’s at no cost to you. It requires an application, but it’s at no cost your shelter in it. It really has helped me in countless ways, and I and I would be remiss to not acknowledge that level of support and helped you know you mentioned earlier, and that if you need help, all you have to do is pick up the phone or send an email, and there’s somebody out there whether it be another organization or another individual or a group like UW Wisconsin, right? There’s there’s always somebody out there who is able and willing to help you if you just ask. That’s the beautiful thing about this. This ah industry. I think there’s a lot of people willing to help. Yeah, I agree. I think that’s a great way to wrap this up, Marta. So thank you again for joining me today and sharing a little bit more about what you guys do up there in Missoula. Thank you so much. I really appreciate the opportunity. 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 It’s free and helps automate the most difficult tasks in animal rescue.

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