Rescues to the Rescue: 13 Ideas to Increase Lifesaving and Engagement in Your Community

September 28th, 2019

What is the role of rescue groups in lifesaving? In Austin, and in many other communities where killing was once the status quo, rescue groups have acted as a lifeline for at-risk homeless animals. In part one of this two part series, we share thirteen ideas to increase lifesaving and engagement in your rescue.

1. Make helping your organization and animals easy.

    Diversify your volunteer and foster programs by adding short term foster or field trips, or by sending pets home with people the same day they sign up to foster. Try putting your volunteer orientation online and allow all of your staff and volunteers to foster pets in need. Use Facebook donate, Paypal, and Amazon wishlist to make it easy and clear for people to donate money and supplies.

    2. Share more stories and photos than you think you should.

      Follow the example of Kansas City Pet Project: tell individual pet stories and show people what happens in your facility. If you ask for help for a particular animal who needs donations or medical care, post follow up stories to keep people updated. Learn more on how to use storytelling to save lives by watching Kristen Hassen’s “Using Social Media to Maximize your lifesaving impact” AmPA! Conference Recording.

      3. Practice and celebrate open adoption.

        Use conversation based adoption counseling like the Humane Society of the United States Adopters Welcome Manual to help counselors match people with pets. Come to an apprenticeship in Austin to build a Dog Adoption Matchmaker program in your organization. Celebrate every adoption and foster placement by sharing pet names on a chalkboard in your lobby, posting adoption and foster photos on social media, and setting goals and incentives for your team.

        4. Build community through follow-up support.

          Instead of adoption and foster restrictions, focus on follow-ups with adopters and fosters by using free tools like Maddie’s Pet Assistant. Break down barriers to live outcomes by leaving home checks, landlords checks, references, and other hurdles in the past. Instead, build relationships with your community and encourage human-animal bonds through post-placement support.

          5. Tell people how, when, and where they can save lives.

            Ask for the help you need. Try creating an event to find homes for specific groups of at-risk pets, like Charleston Animal Society in their plea for big dog adopters. Use social media to post important information about when and where people should go to foster or adopt your pets. Let the public know that every pet that is fostered or adopted through your organization is a life saved.

            6. Move fast!

              Each kennel and each foster home is equal to two lives saved. Even if your organization is not euthanizing animals, work with urgency to find them homes. The faster you move, the more lives you can save and the larger your lifesaving network will become.

              7. Commit to pulling at-risk pets from your local municipal shelter.

                If you’re looking to bring more kittens and puppies into your organization, consider taking in pregnant and nursing moms or neonatal puppies and kittens. While the Siamese kittens surrendered to the local shelter might be easy for your organization to adopt out, it might be just as easy for the municipal shelter to find adoptive homes for them.

                8. Host lots of adoption events.

                  Commit to having at least one to two adoption events a week and use these events to recruit more volunteers and fosters. Reach out to local coffee shops, bookstores, grocery stores, and other shops around town, or be creative and host an adoption event at IKEA like Jacksonville Humane Society.

                  9. Use transport programs to send pets to safety.

                    Some of the most successful rescues in the country organize regular transport missions to send large numbers of their local pets out of county or state and to safety. Build relationships with organizations outside of your community where more pets are needed. Utilize transport technology, like Doobert, reach out to us for resources and be sure to watch Clare Callison’s AmPA! Presentation “Get Pets to Safety,” for more information.

                    10. Step up in crises.

                      If there is a flood, disease outbreak or space crisis in your community and it that might increase euthanasia decisions at the local shelter, find ways for your organization to help save the lives at-risk. Read the Maddie’s Fund blog “Tips for using foster care as a lifeline during an animal shelter crises.”

                      11. Say yes to fresh ideas.

                        Support volunteers and staff when they have a new ideas that might save more lives. Offer support, guidance, and set clear expectations and goals. Let the idea-maker take the lead. If you are nervous about a new idea, but want to give it a try, consider piloting a new program.

                        12. Stay informed and copy other people’s good work.

                          Keep up with best practices, read blogs, join the Maddie’s Pet Forum and sign up for the AmPA! newsletter. Find and steal other people’s creative ideas to use in your organization. For hands-on, No Kill learning and networking opportunities, attend the 2020 American Pets Alive! Conference or apply to attend AmPA’s Maddie’s Lifesaving Academy.

                          13. Thank people for their support everyday.

                            Say thank you and tell people about how their support helps to save animal lives on your social media, everyday. Make videos or live stream to show your appreciation, showcasing how fosters, volunteers, donations, and adopters positively impact the animals in your care. Make sure to slow down enough to let people know that love, support, and sharing stories goes a long way in rescue.

                            Stay tuned for part II – tips to deepen partnerships with your local shelter using data and communication.

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