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Coffee Break: Low-Cost Tricks and Tools

What low-budget investment has paid the biggest dividends—in increased adoptions, improved animal care, smoother field operations, or a better facility? What’s your favorite cost-saving tip—perhaps a gadget or household item that you’ve found a new use for to help save money? That’s the question we asked you for this issue’s Coffee Break. You responded by telling us how you’ve gotten innovative with pellets, and repurposed everything from boxes and buckets to french fry trays and grocery carts—all in the name of stretching those precious dollars to help more animals!

For years we used disposable cat boxes—the kind marketed specifically as disposable cat boxes that you put together by pushing in the corner tabs. Of course we lined them with newspaper, and reused [them] as often as we could (for the same cat) before changing to a new one. This was expensive, and shipping costs were getting outrageous. We had to think outside the box—apparel shirt boxes! They were half the price, you get charged per shirt box, but you get a top and a bottom. So it's half the price for twice as many! No tabs, they just need to be popped open, and then you bend the corners slightly inward to hold their shape. We still line them with newspaper and use them as long as we can per cat before getting a new box. They work just as well as the others, only far less expensive. Shirt boxes! Who would have thought!?

I heard a great cost-saving idea at a recent convention. Do you want cardboard cat carriers and dog slip leads at no cost? Then contact your local veterinarians and ask if they would donate some of their personalized carriers and leashes so you can hand them out to the adopters. The new pet adopters will go home with the veterinarian’s information on them. Free carriers and leashes for your shelter and free advertisement for the veterinarians! You could even suggest “exclusive” usage if the veterinarian agrees to supply them whenever you need them; and only use that one veterinarian. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Cindy Carlson, senior kennel attendant, Henderson Animal Care and Control, Henderson, Nevada

To see and respond to the latest Coffee Break question, check out

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