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Culture Corner

People to People

If you’ve fretted over the animals you’re not reaching, if you’ve ever wondered why some neighborhoods seem harder to reach or struggled with the fear that your messages and services aren’t getting where they need to go, you need to take a look at the Pets for Life Community Outreach Toolkit developed by The HSUS and funded by PetSmart Charities. Developed over the course of years of work and research in underserved communities around the country, the toolkit explores the reasons some messaging fails, and explores the ways to change that, helping animal welfare organizations get to the people they may be missing. It takes users step-by-step through the best ways to conduct community assessments in order to target outreach, develop program goals, talk to people about spay/neuter, and align your organization’s goals with community interests and priorities. In the battle to help animals, we often forget that people are crucial to our mission, and this publication will help remind readers that connecting with other human beings and meeting them with the nonjudgmental, friendly approach we ourselves would want is not only the most effective means to change, but the most rewarding. A PDF version of the Pets for Life Community Outreach Toolkit can be downloaded in its entirety for free.

A Paean to Shelter Pets

The first episode of Shelter Me, a documentary series produced by Steven Latham, debuted on PBS stations earlier this year. It’s an uplifting, well-crafted look at the many pets in shelters who would make fine companions or service animals. The first episode has three segments; one follows the journey of two stray dogs who enter the Los Angeles shelter system; the next, shelter dogs who’ve been paired for service-dog training with women inmates in a California prison; the last, shelter dogs chosen for their good temperament and matched with veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s an engrossing hour, filled with scenes of the human-animal bond that shelter and rescue people will appreciate. The most moving segment is about the returning soldiers trying to readjust to civilian life, still haunted by the emotional trauma of war. Their raw honesty and gratitude for their new furry friends steals the show. “I’m not alone anymore,” says one vet, talking about his dog. “I have somebody next to my side, 24/7, and I don’t have to worry about looking over my shoulder. It’s what she does.”

A Cool Cat’s Memoir

There’s no one quite like Jackson Galaxy on the feline scene, with his mod facial hair, piercings, full-sleeve tattoos—and a guitar case filled with alluring kitty toys and scents. Galaxy, who started in sheltering in the ’90s in Boulder, Colo., has soared to fame thanks to Animal Planet’s show My Cat from Hell, where he offers expert advice to L.A. pet owners distressed by kitties gone haywire. Now he’s got a new memoir out, Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me about Life, Love, and Coming Clean. And the well-written, oftentimes poignant book is as much about the author’s hair-raising descent into—and, thankfully, recovery from—substance abuse and food addiction as it is about his life with cats. It was his surprising discovery one night that he had a knack for soothing stressed-out shelter cats, and a growing desire to find ways to save as many of them as he could, that led Galaxy to find meaning, a deep sense of connection—and healing. There are some profound, and shattering, passages about his shelter experiences, as well as Galaxy’s thoughts about where sheltering needs to go next, and how we can get there.

Whole Lotta Love

The folks at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa say they’ve pretty much seen it all when it comes to dogs and cats. Now they’re sharing what they’ve learned in two new books: For Love of Dogs and For Love of Cats. The authors tap into their breadth of experience to cover a wide range of topics related to understanding and training our feline and canine companions. For Love of Cats explores the myths about shelter cats, and includes tips on everything from choosing a veterinarian to designing a scratching area. For Love of Dogs (which also includes a training DVD) takes a similarly comprehensive approach, with sections ranging from choosing a puppy to basic training and addressing problem behaviors. Both books are extremely reader-friendly—lavishly illustrated with color photos, full of step-by-step instructions, and loaded with real-life advice presented in magazine-style callout boxes. Stories of successful adoptions are sprinkled throughout both books. Chock full of sound advice, For Love of Dogs and For Love of Cats should also prove useful for shelter workers who are trying to create and maintain successful bonds between people and their pets. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of the books will benefit the ARL of Iowa.

Read the rest of this issue from Animal Sheltering magazine

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