The Best Shelter Employees Display These Six Traits

By Kristen Hassen-Auerbach

Kristen Hassen-Auerbach | January 1st, 2020

Here’s how to spot the best of the best when it comes to shelter workers. Who in your shelter embodies these characteristics? These gems should be celebrated and thanks for their amazing efforts!

A group of terrific PACC employees

They’re humble. There’s no room for ego when it comes to saving lives. The best shelter employees are lifelong learners who are continuously striving to do better by the animals and people they serve. They don’t let personality conflicts or difficult conversations get in the way of their work and they always try to bring positive energy to the people and pets around them.

They embrace innovation. These employees look for ways to say YES! and they love to try new things. No idea is too big and they’re always up for a challenge. When they have an idea, these creative folks make a plan, identify the goal, and work with their teammates to build their new program or see their idea through.

They stay until the job is done. Weekends, evenings and holidays mean time off for most professions, but in shelters, that’s when we often are the busiest. Shelters are a 365-day-per year business and great shelter workers know they will sometimes have to make sacrifices to care for pets with around-the-clock needs. These all-star employees use holidays and weekends as time to have extra fun and you’ll sometimes see them coming up with creative adoption promotions, dressing pets up in cute costumes, or bringing in cookies and treats to share with staff or the pets themselves. They’ll go the extra mile and they’ll do it with a smile and a great attitude.

A PACC employee comforts a lost dog in intake

They believe their work matters. The best shelter workers are proud to be part of this profession. They’re always talking about their work with friends and family and you’ll often see them out and about or on social media with the pets they have adopted or are fostering. They serve as ambassadors for shelter pets and your organization and they’ll often be telling people about the benefits of adopting a homeless cat or dog!

They like people as much as animals. Customer service is a priority for fantastic shelter employees and they’ll go out of their way to make sure every person they interactive is greeted warmly, thanked, and made to feel appreciated and supported. They have almost endless patience, even after a long adoption weekend or a particularly stressful intake day. They know volunteers, fosters, and rescue partners are the key to lifesaving success and they are excellent collaborators. Their motto is, “It takes a village to save lives,” or “the more the merrier!”

PACC employee, Nikki Reck, cuddles a dog named Joey

They treat every pet with love and care. Great shelter employees are full of love for pets they care for. You’ll know how to spot these people. They sometimes spend their breaks visiting with a special needs senior dog or quietly socializing a fearful cat. They are respectful and kind to the pets they handle and never speak condescendingly or sharply to them. When you have a great shelter employee, the love they feel for animals is palpable. They treat every shelter pet with the same love and dignity they treat their own pets and celebrate them finding new homes.


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