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- - “We, as animal welfare stakeholders, agree to foster a mutual respect for one another. When discussing differences of policy and opinion, either publicly or within and among our own agencies, we agree to refrain from denigrating or speaking ill of one another. We will also encourage those other individuals and organizations in our sphere of influence to do the same.” (Paragraph 4 of Guiding Principles, Asilomar Accords) We live in interesting times. Seems the go to stance in religion and politics these days is to react in anger, hate, and denigration to any view that we personally do not share. I have certainly been guilty of this during this far too long presidential election season. The same has been true in the animal welfare field for many years. The above statement is from a document that was worked out in 2004, indicating how pervasive this reaction was and still is within the field. “We are right” the “other” is wrong, ...read more
- - Look up charitable giving in the United States (Google, Guidestar, etc.) and there you will find us, at the very bottom of the list. That’s right, the area of animal welfare/environment receives just two cents of the charitable dollar. When I think of that, and the many changes that have occurred in recent years in animal welfare, especially regarding companion animals, I am amazed at how much has been accomplished with so little. One of the largest changes has been the elimination of the pound. The move to true sheltering, caring, and adoption of stray animals through innovative and targeted services has made a deep and lasting improvement in the lives of companion animals. Everyone within animal welfare knows that estimates in the 1970’s of animals being euthanized in shelters was astronomical (15 to 25 million deaths annually, depending on who you read). That number has been drastically reduced to 3 to 7 million thanks to the rise of volunteer ...read more
- - As most everyone on Whidbey Island knows, 2015 is WAIF’s 25th year of service to the island. It also happens to be my 10th year in the career of animal welfare, having made the jump from a 25-year career in the nonprofit human service field to companion animal sheltering in 2005. For both, WAIF and this nonprofit professional, it has been a wild ride! If there were one thing that differentiates the two fields of animal welfare and human welfare, it might be the level of unbridled passion that staff, volunteers, and donors bring to the table in the work. Yes, commitment among staff, volunteers and donors in human services is every bit as strong and compassionate. But unbridled? Perhaps not so much. Part of this difference may be in the level of established “best practices,” or level of professionalism attained in human services. For instance, when I started as a social worker in Iowa many moons ago, there were ...read more
- - Management organized a new Program/Operations Committee to begin the process of looking at all the various ideas and suggestions that have been gathered over the last few years as they relate to use of the new shelter and Annex building. Putting program and operations together into one team will help ensure that any new or expanded programs or services of WAIF will be sustainable (finances) and consistent (policy) with existing programming. This committee, consisting of staff, volunteers, and several board members of WAIF, will make recommendations to the Board of Directors for new or expanded services and the means of sustaining all operations in the new building. New facilities usually means there will be new expenses. Having a team of concerned individuals look at where we are, identify the challenges and opportunities, and make recommendations to respond to both will help our transition to the new shelter go smoothly as possible and give us a jump start on achieving some ...read more
- - While working on research for a grant proposal, we discovered WAIF was listed as one of three shelters in the state of Washington as achieving the top tier level of a no kill community (saving 90% or more of shelter animals) as published on www.saving90.org with data provided by No Kill Advocacy Center. The three Washington shelters are: Kitsap Humane Society, serving 251,000 people, had a save rate of 93% (2013 data) Orcas Animal Protection Society, serving 4,500 people, had a save rate of 95% (2013 data) Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation, serving 58,000 people, saved 95% (2014 data) This surprising recognition, along with the earlier announced recognition from Mutts Across America Award, indicates that WAIF is setting the standard in the NW and indeed across the nation for caring for homeless companion animals. We will only step up this standard when we move into the long awaited new shelter this summer. We have chosen to continue to use the terminology ...read more
- - A great new pamphlet has been recently published by the No Kill Advocacy Center entitled “Section 1983 To The Rescue.” This resource, revised from its original appearance in 2008 by Nathan Winograd, provides some helpful direction to individuals involved as volunteers in public (governmental) shelter settings across the USA when they find conditions or practices they feel are injuring animals. It basically takes the Federal statute 1983 (42 U.S.C. 1983) and applies it to government run (public) animal shelters, and what they can and cannot require of volunteers in those shelters. In review of the information, I find much that is also helpful to volunteers that are working in private shelters and rescues. One of the main issues described is in the use of confidentiality statements that volunteers are usually required to sign as part of the application process to volunteer. The practice of signing confidentiality statements is a regular practice for staff and volunteers of most nonprofit and for ...read more
- - Is the website up to date with activity? Do they send newsletters? Are they current? These are the questions the Mutts Across America: 50 States/50 Shelters program used in just one area of their criteria list to select one shelter in each state for recognition and to receive a grant for $3,000. For MuttNation Foundation, it seems the answer they found when it came to WAIF is YES! We do still have the “Fire.” For the second year in a row, WAIF has been selected for this MuttNation Award for the state of Washington. A brief listing of other criteria the board members of MuttNation Foundation researched are: – High Live Release Rate (90%). WAIF’s 2014 Live Release Rate is 94.9%! – High volunteerism (people rarely jump on/stay on a sinking ship). – Are they fiscally responsible (low admin/staff costs). – High activity/fundraising (are they working hard to earn income)? – Do they work outside of the shelter to adopt ...read more
- - What a year for WAIF and Whidbey Island! While there are still a few days to go in the year, I wanted to just stop and share the good things the past year has brought us. To list just a few of the more interesting events of this year: Selected as the state of Washington’s “Shelters Across America” award recipient by MuttNation Foundation. This award of $3,000 came as a complete surprise to WAIF. Selection was based upon MuttNation Foundation’s own research, where we met the criteria for “no kill” standards, community and volunteer involvement, and financial accountability. WAIF assisted in the writing of the Coupeville Disaster Response Plan, which includes the sheltering of companion animals during times of emergency. WAIF was chosen “Best Nonprofit Organization” on the island, by Whidbey News Group (Whidbey Times, The Whidbey Examiner, South Whidbey Record, Whidbey Crosswind) “Best of Whidbey: Readers’ Choice Awards.” Over eighty volunteer Ambassadors helped at many, many booths, tables, and ...read more
- - Shortly before Thanksgiving, we were notified that WAIF was approved as an adoption partner with Petco. This designation through the national headquarters of Petco, now allows us to place a few of our adoptable cats into their stores, getting them greater exposure to potential adoptive families. This is from an application we submitted in August, right after Petco had their grand opening at the end of July. As WAIF’s executive director, I was honored to conduct the ribbon-cutting for the new store in Oak Harbor. Petco has been a wonderful partner for many shelters across the country, helping with providing volunteers, fund raising, and providing grants to worthwhile programs. Sue Gaylord, Oak Harbor store manager, has visited WAIF shelters on the island and first suggested the possibility to have us apply to partner with them. Petco, through their foundation, also provides training seminars related to increasing adoption opportunities, including ways to keep behavior of animals positive while waiting for their ...read more
- - On behalf of WAIF, I am pleased to announce that WAIF now offers an online licensing option for dogs on Whidbey Island to Island County residents outside the city limits of Oak Harbor, Coupeville, and Langley. WAIF has partnered with Pawzii, our online service provider, to deliver this additional service to Island County pet owners on Whidbey Island for their convenience. In-person license renewals will remain available through WAIF, along with most area veterinarians, and at county offices. For altered dogs, the license cost is $10. For unaltered dogs, the cost is $33. In addition to the license cost, a nominal administrative fee of $4 is added for the convenience of ordering dog licenses online through Pawzii, with USPS mail delivery provided by WAIF. 100% of the license fee will continue to go to the county to help subsidize animal control services. If you’re a county resident outside the city limits of Oak Harbor, Coupeville, and Langley and own a ...read more
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