Public safety agencies are inundated with so much work and responsibilities that any initiative that can alleviate the workload and the accompanying stress and pressure is worth a try. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control implemented a program that aimed to reduce kennel stress while increasing the visibility of adoptable dogs in the community.
This session’s speaker is Shannon Harkey who’s been with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control for more than 20 years. She’s served in various capacities and is currently its Customer Service/Community Outreach Manager.
Shannon will dissect their Short-Term Foster Program and its success thus far. The discussion includes:
- An overview of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care Control and the work that the agency does.
- The issues that the shelter had been facing with:
- Less-than-ideal shelter layout that creates stress among the dogs.
- Dogs that are staying for an extended amount of time and not being adopted.
- Lack of volunteers during weekdays to spend time with the dogs for enrichment activities.
- Details on the two short-term foster programs they implemented.
- The Staycation program that allowed people to bring home a dog for a maximum of 5 days.
- The Daycation program that allowed community members to spend a couple of hours with a dog.
- Statistics that demonstrated the success of both the Staycation and Daycation program as seen in:
- The total number of dogs taken for Staycations and Daycations.
- Staycations that resulted in adoption or longer-term fostering.
- Valuable information collected to better understand the dogs’ behavior.
- A run-through of how an individual can take part in the Staycation and Daycation programs.
- Reviewing the paperwork and documents essential to the program.
- The Staycation Liability Waiver that laid out the protections and liability between involved parties.
- The Behavior Report Card that was used to gather insights on the dog’s behavior which are useful when trying to match the dogs with potential adopters.
- The Dog Introduction Sheet that provided guidelines for the shelter dogs during the Staycation and Daycation particularly when interacting with other dogs.
- The resources that the shelter provides its customers to set them up for successful interaction and the sources of the funding for these.
- A look into the manpower, workload, and attention to detail required to carry out this program appropriately.
- The perks in terms of free organic marketing from the people and businesses that are doing the Staycations and Daycations.
- The program’s life-saving capability by keeping dogs off the shelters and avoiding euthanasia due to behavior issues.
- Lessons learned on unnecessary barriers to community engagement in terms of screening and logistical issues.
- Recognizing the concerns that they had prior and how they overcame these through optimism, trust, and just wanting the best for the dogs.
- Dro’s success story that proved how dogs that are considered difficult may just be stressed by conditions in the shelter and are actually lovely when in a home environment.
Questions from the webinar attendees were about:
- Animals that are on cruelty hold.
- Managing liabilities and costs of injuries during the Staycation and Daycation.
- Metrics that show how the program shortened the time to adoption.
- People’s conscientiousness with the timelines and the system used to track the timeline.
- Requirements to long-term foster or adopt dogs via the short-term foster programs.
- Geographical limits of the program.
- Extending the program to other species of animals.
- Scheduling for Staycations and Daycations.
- Missed out adoption opportunities while dogs are on Staycations.
Other Webinars in this Series Include:
- Dec 10: Recruiting the Next Generation to Your Agency
- April 8: Staycations and Daycations – Building Short Term Foster Programs
- July 8: Building and Maintaining a Productive, High Volume Fostering Program
- July 22: The Care, Nurturing and Enrichment of Tame & Feral Volunteers
Resources and Handouts
- The beginning of the program from start to finish was top notch. I appreciated the documents that were provided to attendee’s for what was approved by a CAO’s office. I appreciated the candor in the lesson’s learned, the successes gained, the data shown, and working through hurdles. — Brittany
- The handouts were great, lots of information. I really like the idea of being an “open” adoption shelter. I think the idea of staycations/daycations is great. Thank you for this great session! — Jennifer
- Shannon is a fantastic speaker and brings a wealth of experience from a variety of perspectives in animal welfare. Her no-nonsense approach and openness to trying new things is amazing. Charlotte-Mecklenburg is lucky to have her, and I would love to hear more from her. — Josh
- It was really encouraging to see the number of dogs euthanized drop over the years due to daycations/staycations. It gave me a lot of hope that if we start implementing these programs that we’ll see a decrease in euthanasians, which is one of our goals here at the shelter. I actually took a screenshot of the staycation “postcard” and plan to introduce it to our foster program. I feel that it could be very beneficial for our adoption coordinator and benefit our staff as well. — Emily