This is a remarkable time for our field—shelter euthanasia is down to its lowest point in history, there are thousands of different organizations working together to save animals, adoption by the public is at an all-time high and our shared goal of seeing the end of euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals is tantalizingly close. However, even as we celebrate this success, there are pockets of the country that have not come as far in terms of reducing pet overpopulation, and for whom the dream of minimal euthanasia still seems unreachable. Those shelters need the help and support of their peers who have been more fortunate. Thankfully, the hearts of many groups around the country are big enough to embrace them and share the secrets of their success to help ensure everyone crosses the “finish line” together.
Creating a relationship with a group struggling to provide care for their animals is one of the best ways to increase lifesaving beyond your own facility. The collaboration between mentor and mentee groups allows for opportunities to share knowledge and information, ensure funds for necessary spay/neuter efforts and provide other types of support. It is unique in that it is a hands-on cooperative venture between animal welfare organizations designed not only to help individual animals but weave a stronger safety net for the community at large.
But taking on a mentee shelter is a decision that should not be made lightly. It means an ongoing, long-term commitment to another organization, often many miles away, that has fewer resources, less lifesaving infrastructure and novel obstacles. It also means juggling responsibilities at home, ensuring that board members, supporters, taxpayers, the community at large and even staff recognize and support the broader goals achieved by diverting staff time and resources to elevating another group. In the end, however, it is a unique opportunity for groups that are leading the way in humane care and lifesaving to share their expertise outside their backyard, and truly help create a more humane nation.