This is a remarkable time for our field—euthanasia of adoptable, homeless pets is down to its lowest point in history and continues to drop each year; there are thousands of animal welfare organizations working together to save animals and keep families together; adoption by the public is at an all-time high and proven programs to humanely manage community cats are on the rise. However, even as we celebrate this success, there are communities that have struggled to reach these milestones due to a lack of funding, availability of affordable veterinary medicine and systemic poverty in underserved communities. The goal of the Shelter Ally Project is to provide resources and expertise to shelters who are committed to addressing the most common challenges in animal welfare.
The Shelter Ally Project provides grant funding and mentorship to animal shelters that seek to improve their operations within several programmatic and policy issues, including community cats, pet inclusive housing and regional capacity building, to forge local relationships with under resourced shelters. Mentorships run an average of six months but vary based on organizational goals and capacity. Grant funds range from $10,000 to $25,000 based on the topic. The application process will be posted here later in 2022.
Take cat management up a notch by developing comprehensive programing for community cats both in and out of the shelter. A focus on tactical trap-neuter-release, practical pathway planning for cats entering the shelter and coordination of programs across your organization provides a holistic approach to managing dynamic populations of cats in your community. Together we’ll review relevant local laws, standard operating procedures and other policies, then develop a roadmap for navigating obstacles, clearing bottlenecks and changing policies.
Pet inclusive housing
Safe, stable and secure housing is a foundational building block in creating equity for pet ownership and keeping families together. Shelters participating in the mentorship will begin by researching and collecting data on the current landscape of affordable housing in the communities they serve to identify the challenges families face. Training will include ways to advocate for pet-inclusive housing and how to respond to the eviction crisis in your community.
Creating relationships with organizations struggling to provide care for homeless and owned animals is one of the best ways to increase lifesaving beyond your own facility. This mentorship is a hands-on, cooperative venture between animal welfare organizations designed not only to help individual animals, but also to weave a stronger safety net for the community at large. Our long-term approach seeks to build local capacity through effective policies and programs that will, over time, reduce the number of animals flowing into their facilities and keep more pets in their homes.
Peer to peer mentorship
Not able to participate in a formal Shelter Ally mentorship? Consider mentoring a shelter independently! The collaboration between mentor and mentee groups allows for opportunities to share knowledge and information to increase lifesaving. The HSUS can help strategically identify and set up these connections. We can also help determine achievable goals between the two organizations. Peer to peer mentorship may require helping your organization’s supporters and community understand the importance of equity in animal welfare, diverting some 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. If you are interested in mentoring a shelter in need, please review our mentorship guide and reach out to us.
Looking for more information? Find additional resources here.