Improving the welfare of our shelter dogs and cats

Staff Learns Ways to Better Serve Shelter Dogs and Cats

Several of our staff members attended the virtual “Behavior, Training, Enrichment Bootcamp for Shelters,” hosted through UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program – Maddie’s® Million Pet Challenge. Led by Dr. Cindi Delany who has been working in animal shelters for more than 20 years, our staff gained further insight on best practices to implement impactful changes at Valley Animal Center. 

Fear Free Training was a significant aspect of the virtual bootcamp and has shaped how our staff will move forward to better the environment and quality of life of our dogs and cats. We are always pursuing excellence and innovation when it comes to the health and well-being of the animals in our care.

Here are a few words from our staff about their experience and knowledge gained:

Maritza Lopez, Animal Care Operations Supervisor

Maritza Lopez

I gained a new perspective on how our shelter animals may be experiencing fear and stress without our knowing. This will impact our team in such a great way in better identifying and helping an animal that is under a lot of stress. New protocols will be introduced to train our staff on how to better help our animals.

We can now notice behaviors that can potentially become a problem in finding them homes and helping them resolve these issues before they become permanent. 

Our main goal is to provide a safe environment and help these animals feel comfortable here until they find that family who will adopt them. We are here to help better the lives of these animals more than just the basic necessities of food and water. We need to meet their emotional needs as well.

Ruben Cantu, Animal Care Adoption Supervisor

Ruben Cantu

I learned a lot of information and it has really helped me take a step back and reassess how I handle our dogs and cats that are in our care. Some of the smallest things can make a huge difference for our animals. 

Anjanette Mendoza, Animal Care Specialist (Cats)

Anjanette Mendoza

When Maritza told me that she enrolled us in a bootcamp for the enrichment of shelter animals, I thought that maybe it was more oriented toward dogs. I was still excited to join and make myself able to help when needed. I quickly learned that it would benefit the cats just as much as the dogs! 

I learned about giving the cats more hiding spaces instead of just beds, or that different kinds of enrichment are available and will help stimulate cats to be more well rounded and adoptable.

I have been trying to offer our shy cats more hiding spaces and little hiding spots, all made out of boxes we get our medications and supplies in. In the future, it would be awesome to work toward getting double-sided housing and long lasting alternatives to cardboard boxes when it comes to the cats having hiding options.

Jessica Silva, Animal Care Specialist (Dogs)

Jessica Silva

I learned a lot, ranging from things about kennel stress, how the length of time in a shelter impacts a dog, how to approach really nervous dogs, etc.

I learned that there are many things we are already doing in our shelter that are correct and positive for our dogs, but there are always more things we can do. For example, the bootcamp shared a video where they covered the bottom of the kennels so that the dogs aren’t seeing each other or other things moving around and that helps to lower their stress level in a shelter setting. 

Valley Animal Center is dedicated to serving animal companions in the Central Valley and beyond. Our mission is to unite dogs and cats with loving people. We believe every animal deserves a loving family and furever home. Donate to support our endless mission as we care for the hundreds of homeless dogs and cats.



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