Michigan Pet Fund Alliance hosts volunteer workshop

SANDS TWP, Mich. (WLUC) - Experts from the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance hosted an all-day seminar Thursday at the Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter's brand new facility.

Michelle Spranger is a board member with the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance. She says UPAWS is one of the highest rated animal shelters in Michigan.

"Because this is a perfect example of not only an animal shelter and animal control, but an adoption center. It's super user-friendly, it’s a fun place to go. They have a lot of kid programs," Spranger shared.

At a shelter the size of UPAWS, It's important to staff and volunteers deliver a consistent and quality level of care.

Ann Brownell, Community Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator at UPAWS says the facility relies on a host of volunteers.

"We have over 200 volunteers. We really love our in-shelter volunteers. We have them cleaning in the morning and helping walk dogs,” Brownell asserted.

Many families also offer their homes as foster homes for pets waiting for a permanent home. These volunteers must also maintain consistent care.

UPAWS staff and volunteer were there along with staff from other shelters around the Great Lakes, learning best practices and the latest medical research.

"Because many times, shelter animals need special treatment. Whether it’s medical rehabilitation or behavioral rehabilitation," Spranger stated.

Even the experts with decades of experience handling animals can learn something at this workshop.

"I learned a ton and these shelter volunteers and staff can take this back to their areas,” Brownell boasted.

Professional Dog Trainer Lisa Rabine also offered her invaluable perspective on dog language, assessing dog behavior, interacting safely around dogs and reducing stress in the shelter.

"The dogs tend to get really stressed out in the shelters. Some of them get so stressed out it becomes chronic stress and then we see unwanted behaviors," Rabine reasoned.

Rabine also talked about enrichment exercises, like puzzles, along with obedience and leash training.

“Positive energy goes right though the leash. It’s super important and if you have a chance to attend one of these Michigan Pet Fund Alliance conferences, they’re so worth it," Brownell announced.

Thanks to informational sessions like this, Michigan is a leader nationwide in saving animals.

"We are really close to becoming a no-kill state and that just means we're saving healthy and treatable cats and dogs,” Spranger said.

It’s all so that these animals have a fair shot at finding a good home.

Click here to find out if volunteering at a shelter like UPAWS will be the right fit for you.

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