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field services officer with a dog

The Best Friends Podcast - Episode 13

American Pets Alive Piloting Social Services Model of Sheltering
May 22nd, 2020

Our work has evolved rapidly the past several years as we all work to change an institutionalized sheltering system that was not designed to save lives. The operational changes during COVID-19 have served to accelerate even more change and a determined group of leaders believes now is the time for us to create a new paradigm.

Historically our focus has been on helping pets but people have not been given the same priority. Times have changed and while we’re better at the people part, this new model of sheltering seeks to turn everything on its head and serve the community in new ways.

American Pets Alive! is leading the charge with a pilot project in 13 cities* where they hope to determine if an “Animal Social Services Model” is the wave of the future.

Guest this week:

*since the publication of this episode, New York City has moved down to a tier two community

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The 10 Elements of the Animal Social Services Model

1. The shelter provides emergency medical care and short term housing for animals with urgent needs.

2. The public can reach the organization quickly and easily using remote technologies like text, phone, and web chats.

3. Volunteers are engaged in every area of the organization, including field and outreach services.

4. Telehealth services are available for animal caregivers considering surrender, and foster caregivers, and finders of animals who may be sick or injured.

5. Animals that physically enter the shelter have outcome pathways identified before or at the time of intake, so the in-shelter length of stay is reduced drastically.

6. The vast majority of pets are housed in foster homes, rather than shelter kennels, and most foster pets are adopted directly from foster homes.

7. Animal caregivers can access pet support services, including housing, medical and behavioral support, as well as food and supplies, to help keep the human-animal family together.

8. Animal services personnel operate as trained case managers, helping people keep their pets, providing resources and support to struggling pet owners, and assisting owners who need to re-home their animals.

9. The organization operates a comprehensive loose pet reunification service to successfully send most roaming pets home without them having to enter the shelter system.

10. Human social services agencies, rescue groups, and other community partners work closely with the animal services organization, recognizing people and their pets as a family unit.

Learn more at the American Pets Alive! website.