Every day responsible, caring pet owners witness pets being mistreated by their owners. There are just two things they can do.
Walk away since in reality it is none of their business and it is not worth risking a confrontation, which is correct.
Confront the pet owner, which while well intentioned, rarely does any good as the pet owner does not recognize the stranger's authority to tell them what to do.
Our Director Rich Werner has approached and talked with hundreds of pet owners over the years with remarkably positive results. His authority as Director, and use of extreme tact and communication skills are able to open people up to his ideas. In over 90% of cases had the person thanking him for his advice.
This enabled responsible pet advice to be given, and readily accepted, by people that either were unaware they were being less than perfect pet owners, or had not been concerned about being a better pet owner.
We call this "unintentional pet abuse".
What is Unintentional Pet Abuse?
Many pet owners were brought up in an era when treatment of companion animals was very different from the way it is today. Pets were seen more as animals rather than companions, and were treated as such.
In addition, the stresses of daily life often result in the mistreatment of pets. Many people do not realize that while a person can understand to some extent when a person has a bad day, a companion animal sees yelling or any mistreatment as a devastating rejection.
Containment systems still are a big source of mistreatment. A chain is no longer acceptable, and letting a pet run free can be even more inhumane. Many people need help establishing the proper containment system for their pet.
Barking is a huge problem with some pets. When a pet owner allows a pet to bark endlessly it is not just annoying to neighbors, but unhealthy for the pet as well.
Exercising with your pet can be fun and rewarding for both of you. Unfortunately a pet's resilience and inability to complain often results in the pet being in an uncomfortable, or even dangerous position.
Even the core relationship a pet owner has with their pet can be unintentionally inhumane. The APA SPCA promotes "relationship training" as a way to establish better behavior and happiness for all involved.
So what does a Volunteer Educator do?
Every community is different, but the main concept of the Volunteer Educator is to get information and education to those who are not necessarily seeking it, or may not have considered they need it. This requires great tact, patience and diplomacy.
Examples of when a Volunteer Educator may talk with a pet owner:
Someone running with their dog on a hot summer day, but carrying no water for the pet
A dog being left in a hot car on a summer day
A person hitting or yelling at their pet, or pulling them by their collar
A pet being left outside in inclement weather
A dog barking endlessly
A cat being allowed to run free
and many more...
A Volunteer Educator may offer information brochures at dog parks, to a person running with their dog or work with the local Humane Agency and go on calls to pet owner complaints. They may also conduct Pet Education Meetings (Various topics) and School Education Seminars.
During the summer Volunteer Educators will carry water to give to pet owners with their pets as a public service.
Each Volunteer Educator will be authorized to handle different situations based on their level of training. A Volunteer Educator Leader is one that has completed all levels of training.
There are 6 levels of training with more expected in the near future.
Level 1 - Basic Course
Level 2 - Pets in Public
Level 3 - Pet Containment including cats running free
Level 4 - Barking & aggressive Dogs
Level 5 - Positive reinforcement training & general care
Level 6 - Elderly/unwanted pets & responding to calls
Each level requires a course fee of $26.00 which can be paid for through a fundraiser.
(vary by level of certification)
Handing out informational brochures in public
Speaking with pet owners in need of responsible pet owning advice
Going on pet owner complaint calls
Conducting Pet Education Meetings (Various topics)
School Education Seminars
A completed, approved application and interview
18 years of age
Excellent communication skills
Detail-oriented and ethical
Ability to interact in a positive way even in negative situations
Professional and tactful
(Background check is conducted on all applicants)
APA SPCA ID Badge and Lanyard
2 APA SPCA Volunteer Shirts
APA SPCA Brochures (3 x 50)
Volunteer Educator Business Cards
APA SPCA Volunteer Bio Web Page
Certificate of Appreciation/Reference (annually)
Package Cost $39.00 or no charge*
Level 1 Online Training Course ($26.00 or no charge*)
Complete a 30 Day Friends and Family Fundraiser or Certified Fundraiser Program to fund your certification.
This is a volunteer position, however we will pay up to $100/month for costs and expenses and $20 per call made from the local humane society you are working with or the APA SPCA. Documentaition required.
How can I have my fees paid for?
* Program participants may pay the costs of the course themselves, or conduct an APA SPCA Certified Fundraiser Program, or 30 Day Friends and Family Fundraiser to fund their program.
When you conduct a fundraiser the amount you raise will be available for all program fees, your program package and costs and expenses. If your balance goes to zero you will need to conduct another fundraiser to have funds availabel to you. We recommend conducting a fundraiser once a year.
If you decide to conduct a fundraiser you may take the course after your fundraiser is completed.