Sharing knowledge and resources is the key to saving more lives and achieving lifesaving shelters. And the shelter outreach mentorship program is designed to do just that. Angels of Assisi offers a variety of free mentorships to help shelters and other animal welfare organizations further develop expertise and achieve specific organizational goals that will maximize lifesaving impact. Through the program, organizations can connect with Angels of Assisi staff across a wide variety of areas and departments.
While transport can be an important part of helping reduce animal populations for mentee groups in the short term (and it can certainly be a benefit to the mentor groups as well), the true goal of any mentorship must be long-term transformation of the mentee group in all aspects of their operation, from intake to population management, adoption policies to community outreach.
Ideally, with the support and guidance of their mentor group, mentees should, at a minimum, achieve:
- Stability in their shelter population, maintaining their humane capacity for care through intake management and diversion practices and enhanced live release options.
- Adopters Welcome adoption policies;
- Accurate data collection and routine, transparent data reporting through Shelter Animals Count;
- Commitment to ensuring all 5 Freedoms for every animal every day.
- Comfort in appropriately navigating and implementing positive policy changes to help more animals at the organizational and local ordinance levels
Mentor groups should strive to support and elevate their mentee to the point at which they are able to manage their own population effectively and contribute to the ‘next’ best practices in animal sheltering. As a shining example of humane animal caretaking and model shelter operation, the former mentee group will be in a position to “pay it forward,” helping to elevate other groups—in short, the mentee group should become a model shelter/mentor for their area. What’s more, their excellence should serve to shine a spotlight on local groups not employing best practices, and influence them to change. In sum, the goal of the shelter mentorship program is to support and build leaders who were once struggling and turn them into local influencers for positive change.
What that investment actually looks like will vary greatly, depending on the needs of the mentee shelter. Some groups may need primarily advice, guidance and a shoulder to lean on, while others may need more tangible resources like vaccines, handling equipment and animal care items. Some will already be well-versed in humane sheltering and best practices, while others will need help with basics like sanitation, starting volunteer, foster, and enrichment programs, and intake practices. Mentor groups will need to be flexible, work to understand the needs and abilities of their mentee shelter and establish and execute a plan for moving forward.