Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Barking in the Big Apple: Natalie's experiences of dog welfare across the pond

This is part one of a guest post from Education Officer Natalie Dexter (owner of the lovely Megan), telling us about her experiences in dog welfare on recent trip to New York.

Here’s the deal, I’m always out and about on behalf of Dogs Trust educating the dog owners of tomorrow about responsible dog ownership so one of the best ways to catch up with all the latest news is to visit our Dogs Trust blog. There’s always something interesting to read on here and I hope you feel the same about the following. Last week I went to America, accompanying my partner who was on a business trip; we went to the Big Apple to be precise, and I thought it might be worthwhile trying to arrange a visit to a dog welfare charity. One visit would have been brilliant but with the help of a VIP I managed to arrange three dog welfare experiences altogether.

My first visit, on my first day in the city, was to North Shore Animal League I was greeted by Joanne Yohannan, their Senior Vice President who introduced me to Sylvia, the Centre Manager. First we joined in on the daily staff meeting before beginning a tour. Through the corridors, rooms and many buildings we wandered and talked about the league, whilst around us their staff busily passed by with all sorts of dogs (and cats). Sylvia took me on an access all areas tour and there was plenty to see! One of the highlights was watching three vets perform neutering operations. Everywhere was immaculately clean and extremely well presented. The staff were friendly and there was a relaxed vibe to the league. All of the animals seemed very happy to live there, though hopefully not for too long! To sum up the whole day, well, I always thought our Dogs Trust Rehoming Centre’s were like 5 star hotels for dogs in need of our help but North Shore really look the (dog) biscuit!

Onto the following day and I met for a coffee with a very inspiring lady named Jenny. A couple of years ago I went to a conference and listened to a speaker from The Humane Society of the United States . After contacting Adam Goldfarb, the director of their Pets at Risk programme, he kindly explained that they don’t have a Rehoming Centre in the NYC but would arrange a meeting with Jenny so she could explain more about her Pets for Life programme. The bonus was to see the programme actually working at New York City’s Animal Care and Control. A visit I would make the following day.

Jenny was so passionate animal welfare, I almost felt like offering to help her myself before realising that would be a very long commute to the office. This side to dog welfare was something I had not experienced first hand before, so the more Jenny spoke of the programme, the more excited I became of the prospect of seeing her programme in action. In order to begin the programme, Jenny worked in a bar at night for years just so she could fund the programme. For the record, Jenny Olsen is a wonderful person.

Come back tomorrow to read about what happened on Natalie's third day!
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