With more than 900 rescue groups, shelters and pounds using PetRescue’s free services, there’s a huge wealth of resources out there. And by sharing our experiences, we can all learn and grow to help secure better outcomes for rescue pets in need.
So, join us while we take a dip into that pool of knowledge. We had a chat with Samantha McKernan from Maneki Neko Cat Rescue to get her take on dealing with the challenges of rescue.
What's your biggest rescue challenge? And how do you deal with it?
The biggest challenge to rescue is the enormity of the issue, and the need to balance our focus on the long-term sweeping changes to the traditional animal management methods that will have the greatest impact to saving lives, and the day-to-day need of individual animals at high risk of being killed.
We deal with this by understanding our capacity for rescue, and ensuring that we are collaborating with those organisations such as the Pound Reform Alliance and Save Darebin Pets that specifically target reform at a jurisdictional level.
What are your tips for handling adoption enquiries?
We always respond as quickly as we can to an enquiry even if it is just letting them know that they will be contacted by the foster carer that day. Many potential adopters have been having family discussions, bought their own home or have received landlord approval and when the decision is finally made to go ahead and adopt they want to act quickly.
We also took note of the many experts that were telling us to make adopting easy, so our application form is fairly short and we try to be as flexible as possible with arranging meetings. In some cases we utilise our vet clinics to display kittens and deal with enquiries, that way applicants do not need to make a time to meet them, they can simply pop in during opening hours. Our plans to open an Adoption Centre in the coming months will also help with this.
What are your tips for surviving kitten season?
Planning, Planning, Planning! We try to have foster carers signed up and engaged before they are needed. That way we are clear on our capacity and can respond quickly to requests. We are also continually reviewing our disease management protocols as kittens, particularly orphaned and unweaned, are very susceptible to illness.
Over the last year we have focused on finding avenues for kitten adoptions through vet clinics and like-minded pet stores. This has significantly increased our capacity as we can move kittens more quickly into homes, freeing up space with foster carers.
Any advice on how to keep your cool and stay sane in the challenging world of rescue?
It really is about planning and organisation, as well as being very clear about what it is that we are trying to achieve. Our ultimate aim is to be out of the rescue business all together! It is our view that if the mainstream shelters were following the principles of 'No Kill' there would be little or no need for rescue groups. We have a strategic plan and we refer to it often. If we are being asked to do something that does not fit or we are going off track then we review and refocus on the plan.
We are also clear about our financial capability and not running ourselves and our volunteers into the ground. One of the best tools we have is our volunteers Facebook Group page (not visible to the public). This provides a forum for foster carers and volunteers to seek assistance and guidance from each other, to brainstorm ideas and issues as well as ensure everyone remains focused on achieving our goals.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
We are very keen to work collaboratively with other rescue groups and currently assist many of the smaller groups in getting themselves set up properly, as well as providing advice and guidance. Our Adoption Centre will be able to be utilised by other rescue groups and will also provide useful programs for rescue groups such as wholesale purchasing and fundraising resources.