Bonnie L. Martinolich, NEFED Board Member
We at the Fed are fresh off of our 74th Annual Conference and initial feedback is that it was well received. We had the greatest number of registered attendees ever at 497 (over 100 more than the next most attended conference), each of whom came from a large assortment of animal welfare walks of life. I met shelter staff and directors, rescue staff and directors, animal control officers, volunteers and even the mother of one of our speakers devoted to addressing the needs of homeless people with pets. This is just another form of diversity – the ever changing and expanding groups of people committed to improving the lives of animals.
This is an exciting time be involved in animal welfare – there are large quantities of scientific information available about animal physical and mental health. People are comfortable bringing “strangers” into their homes – foster dogs and cats – a lifeline for shelters and rescues. There are so many available resources to the public, government, shelters and rescues in the form of grants, spay/neuter clinics and trainers to name just a few. While we all do this work differently, together, we serve large populations of animals and our respective communities.
I feel privileged to be a rescue volunteer in Maine because we have good working relationships with Maine shelters and those relationships benefit dogs in need. Yes, my rescue has a detailed adoption application and adoption process, but I like it and it works for the rescue model. We do not have a brick and mortar facility but rather rely on a network of amazing foster home volunteers and we create personal long-term relationships with our fellow out-of-state rescuers from where most of our dogs come. For us, we believe that a home visit, veterinarian and, if applicable, landlord reference helps to limit the number of returned dogs. Returned dogs have to go through another life-changing upheaval and need to be placed in foster homes – the number of available foster homes is not unlimited. We like our process and I believe the shelters like theirs – it’s ok if we do it differently.
Are there other potential issues that need to be worked through between rescues and shelters? From the anecdotal remarks I hear, it seems so. They sound to me, though, as if they can be addressed if there was a forum for open and respectful conversations.
Who knows – maybe that can happen at the Fed’s 75th Annual Conference in 2020.
We are working on planning not only a conference, but a celebration of all of you for all of the wonderful work you do, even if you don’t do it the same way I do.
I hope to see you there…