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Abby Volin

Abby Volin is the former Public Policy Manager for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), where she focused on policies and programs that protect pets and keep them in their homes. In her previous role at HSUS she developed programs specifically designed to meet the unique needs and challenges experienced by rescue groups. Prior to joining The HSUS, Abby worked as a litigator and was involved of all aspects of operating a rescue group in her spare time.

Content by Abby Volin

  • Magazine Article

    Finding a new source of inspiration

    Abby Volin urges animal welfare to move on from the "starfish model"

    I’m going to make a bold statement that may rankle some feathers, especially in the rescue community, but among many in the sheltering world as well: We need to move on from the “starfish model.” You know what I’m referring to—the notion that, although we can’t save every animal, we can still save the one in front of us and that alone is important enough. For many of us, the starfish story is the perfect analogy to explain why we got into this line of work and is often used to illustrate how organizations operate.

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  • Magazine Article

    Getting off shaky ground

    How to regain your balance and grow past founder’s syndrome

    A rescue should be a democracy, not a dictatorship, but because of a problem called founder’s syndrome, many can lean dangerously close to the latter. When one person has too much power—whether it’s the founder or an overzealous executive director or board member—it can keep your rescue from growing to its fullest potential. By taking some precautions and a hard look at your organization’s practices, you can ensure that as your rescue grows, its fate doesn’t depend on a single person.

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  • Magazine Article

    Rethinking returns

    Repurposing a shelter management tool to control the flow of animals who come back

    It’s a scenario longtime rescuers have nightmares about, and yet we rarely see it coming: One day, seemingly out of the blue, you get the email message: “URGENT! I need to return Fido to you this weekend!”

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  • Magazine Article

    Expecting the unexpected

     You won’t always know when fires or floods will strike, but having a plan in place will help you and your animals get ahead of the weather.

    Smart disaster planning for rescue groups

    Hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods, earthquakes—those are just some of the disasters that animal welfare groups have had to deal with in the past year. If something happened and you had to leave your home in five minutes, would you be prepared? Who would take care of your animals? Where would you go? You now have four minutes and 55 seconds to decide.

    While sudden disaster will likely send your heart racing, having a plan already in place will enable you to take quick, decisive action.

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  • Magazine Article

    Your board ... and how to nail it

    Build it, and it will help build you

    All too often, rescue groups find themselves scrounging for funds for an animal in need of significant vet care, struggling to find enough volunteers to maintain all their programs, or puzzling through setting the organization’s policy on taking in owner-surrendered pets. They daydream, “If only we had a committee to deal with these broad policy issues and long-term fundraising goals, our staff and volunteers could focus on the day-to-day issues.”

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  • Magazine Article

    The great pet migration

    Penny, the 100th dog to be part of the Humane Society of Flower Mound’s Love on Wheels program, in collaboration with Helping Hounds Dog Rescue of Dewitt, N.Y., is showered with attention from rescue volunteers Alexandra Bullard, Carolin Murphy, and Jim Hobbs, and staff member Theresa Calarese.

    Rescue groups partner up to do transport right

    Stacy Smith knows of the mythical land called “The North,” where kitten season lasts for only four months, puppies are in short supply, and brown dogs—ubiquitous in her native Texas—are adopted faster than you can say “Where can I fill out an application?”

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