The ramifications from the pandemic shut-down continue to linger. Inflation continues to soar, seriously impacting family finances, community outreach programs, and businesses. In this time of stress, shelters continue to struggle to retain employees or fill open positions. Six out of 10 are operating 10% below normal staffing levels; four in 10 are operating at 25% below the number of employees they require to simply function day-to-day. Over half of the shelters have been forced to cut employee hours or programs due to budget restraints.
Consider the numbers: there are 3,500 animal shelters in the US with around 14,000 independent shelters and rescue groups [wwwPetpedia.com] Now consider the ramifications of trying to operate without enough professional expertise, dependable volunteer assistance, and funds and you have a perfect storm that is drowning the shelter system.
The priority for many shelters is to fill vacant staff positions. They are not relying on volunteers because it is such a struggle to find them. After COVID, many staff did not return. BISSELL Pet Foundation recognizes that many shelters, especially those in underserved communities, cannot afford to send staff to conferences or training. Not only is this not in their budget, but because there are not enough people working in the shelters, they cannot spare to send even one staff member to a seminar, even though it would undoubtedly prove beneficial to the individual and therefore to the shelter. Through their network of strong shelter partners, BISSELL Pet Foundation alleviates the situation by providing funding for experts willing to travel to communities to provide training and mentorship. These visits invariably lead to lasting relationships and provide a lifeline for shelters needing support by offering free mentorship and training opportunities to its partners through the BPF National Shelter Alliance. This allows shelters to connect to share helpful tools, solutions, and other ideas for added support for shelters in need to establish outreach programs created to increase the number of volunteers and volunteer hours.
“This is what we do at BPF,” says Cathy Bissell, founder of BISSELL Pet Foundation. “We save lives. We help shelters and the people who are making a difference for the animals in their community. We are lucky to partner with incredible organizations because making a difference means working together.”
Filling employee vacancies and training employees to enable them to work productively and achieve a shelter’s daily needs is the priority. Achieving these goals means the need for volunteers is more important than ever, however new models are needed for volunteerism. For example, around one-third of Millennials (individuals born between 1980 and the early 2000s) volunteer their time since the pandemic, while less than a quarter of Gen X (the generation of Americans born between the mid-1960s and early 1980s) and Baby Boomers (born between roughly 1946 to 1964) are coming forward to volunteer. Asking those over the age of 55 to use time once devoted to raising their children and those who are engaged in their retirement years is one way—but how?
Interestingly, individuals who are in college or the full bloom of their careers are finding time in their busy lives to volunteer. Why? According to recent studies, the answer is our children. Here’s what BISSELL Pet Foundation has observed:
Children know adoption is the best option. Time after time, it’s the children leading their parents to adopt. After weeks of asking his dad to adopt a cat, Parker’s family stopped into the City of Cabot Animal Shelter in Arkansas “just to take a look” during BPF’s Empty the Shelters event last July. Immediately, Parker experienced love at first sight, and with very little convincing, he took Millie, his new kitten, home. Since then, the two have been inseparable, with Millie always at Parker’s side, napping on the sofa while he plays video games. Millie even cuddles with the two dogs in the house! Thanks to our ETS event, Parker and Millie will live a long, happy, snuggly life together.
Now more than ever if you love pets than look no further than your own backyard. How can you help? Contact your local animal shelter and find out how. Remember, every hour, every dollar, every thought you give may impact the fate of one dog, one cat, one pet…one life.
You too can help homeless pets by donating to BISSELL Pet Foundation, where every donor, every dollar, and every day counts!
Because BISSELL is dedicated to helping pets, the company absorbs administrative costs, enabling 100% of every donation to BPF to further the Foundation’s mission of reducing the number of pets in shelters and rescues through pet adoption, spay/neuter programs, vaccinations, microchipping, and crisis and disaster response support.