While giving a group tour of our new Lantos Center this week, I bumped into Terri Wong and this was a good thing.
For one, I always like seeing Terri as she’s among our sweetest and most enthusiastic employees. Terri is part of our Behavior Department, and like other members of her team, she splits her time between our Lantos Center (where all animals are available for adoption) and our facility at Coyote Point, where we get to know and work with strays before they are made available for adoption.
The other nice thing about bumping into Terri was that she was wearing our “Sit Happens” T-shirt. And that always gets at least a smile and sometimes a pretty good horse laugh.
A few years back, “Sit Happens” became the unofficial slogan for our Behavior Department. Makes sense, considering they spend their time making shelter animals more adoptable and conducting obedience classes for the public. “Sit Happens” shirts also became the best seller in our retail area.
Making animals more adoptable isn’t always easy. Many dogs come to us needing basic doggie manners and we are experts at this “finishing school” work. Yet, others require much more work. We receive pups who need to learn everything and have full grown dogs who have never been on a leash, never been out of their yards or never interacted with other dogs or people outside of their owners. Or worse, dogs who have been abused or neglected. They come to us with fears and anxieties and need to learn to trust again. In many ways, this work is more challenging than repairing a broken bone. Broken spirits don’t have a straightforward mechanical solution.
This is where our Hope Program comes in. It helps fund Terri’s position and all three paid positions in our Behavior Department. (It funds much of our medical work as well).
I’m simplifying the Behavior team’s work. They manage volunteers, dozens of volunteers who provide exercise and socialization for animals under their guidance. They lead structured classes and they write a weekly column for the Daily News. Maybe you’ve seen our Miss Behavin’s work in print. Good stuff!
Whenever I give tours, I talk about all the work that happens well before animals are available for adoption and the equally important maintenance work that continues once they are moved to our adoption center. Behavior work is just part of this story; we also have veterinary staff, including four full-time vets who treat medical conditions daily. The vet staff doesn’t have a catchy slogan yet, but we’re working on it.
In our facility at Coyote Point, the public couldn’t see any of this vital work. At our new Lantos Center, we took great care to highlight it. Our training “lab” for shelter dogs features a huge public viewing window. Most hours we’re open, this room is our busiest. It’s also our most unique space, featuring a retractable roof, artificial turf and a fountain you have to see in person.
Let me know if you would like a tour, Monday through Friday, 10:30 am to 5:30 pm. A small donation for the animals would be appreciated, but not necessary. Delucchi@PHS-SPCA.org.