Vision, Value, Facts and Figures for the love of Animals

Blog Post Dated 08/02/2013

 By Diane Robertson

Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode (AO) must share information with the public that shows the facts about the organization so they can acquire more donors and donations

One of the things that I have not been sharing with you, my blog post readers, is what your donation to Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode means.  You know what AO does because you can see their Facebook posts and Web Pages.  You can see images of available dogs and cats and the stories of adopted pets on Facebook.  You also have a good idea of what AO needs because they do try to let you know.  Animal Outreach always needs more volunteers, foster parents and monetary donations.  Sometimes, AO asks for specific items such as copy paper or laundry soap.

Did you know that Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode has a “Wish List” on Amazon?  Well, it looks out of date right now.  Yep, one more thing AO “should do” better.

What you do NOT know now are the numbers.  You do not know how many animals were helped last month or last quarter or what form that help took.  You do not know how much money it would take to foster five more dogs or spay one more community cat.  I would like to share this information with you so that you know more about how your donation is used and inspire you to give even more.  I do not have this information therefore I have outlined some questions for Animal Outreach below.

Without answers to at least some of the following questions, Animal Outreach fundraising and volunteer recruitment campaigns are limited in their effectiveness.  People want to know how the money is used and what a donation can accomplish for the organization.  People want to know the impact their  donations are having on the organization.  They know that Animal Outreach save lives.  But, they also want to know more precisely what their donations and/or volunteer work will accomplish.

Here are some questions looking for answers:

  • How many dogs and cats were adopted last week, last month, last quarter, last year?
  • How many surgeries were performed overall (last month, last quarter, last year and then break-down the types of surgeries performed)?
  • How many vaccinations were provided overall?  Then break these down by type of pet (dog or cat), the owner (Animal Outreach or someone else) and perhaps by vaccination type.  For example, knowing that AO provided X number of Rabies vaccinations to clinic dogs and X number to their foster dogs might be interesting to know.
  • How many exams were performed (visits to the clinic aside from surgeries)?
  • What was the intake for dogs, cats and dogs/cats combined last month, last quarter and last year?  Compare this to the same time-period a year earlier.
  • How many dogs does AO have in foster care today/this week/this month?  Compare that to the same time-period last year.  Repeat for cats.
  • What is the average length of stay/AO ownership for dogs?  Cats?
  • How much money did AO receive in monetary donations last month, last quarter, last year?  Compare that to the same period last year.  Perhaps  break down donations into categories that can be readily tracked such as Razoo, Strut Your Mutt, Change Jars and receipted monetary donations made via check or credit card.
  • How much money was raised by each fundraising event?  How many tickets were sold?  Share some pictures of the event or venue.  Compare that to that same event last year, if applicable.
  • How many registered volunteers does Animal Outreach have?  How many active volunteers does Animal Outreach have?  How many volunteers does Animal Outreach need?
  • How many members does Animal Outreach have on the Board of Directors?  How many do they want or need?
  • Does Animal Outreach have or want to have any advisory committees?  For what purposes and how many people do they want or need?
  • What public reports are produced annually?  When are they produced?  Are they available online?

What good are numbers anyway?

When numbers are available, information can be produced that helps people make decisions on donating and volunteering with an organization.  Numbers inform potential donors how much money it will take to care for the “average” cat in the shelter or provide the discounted veterinary services to the public next month.  Numbers can inspire and motivate staff, volunteers and donors.  Most importantly perhaps, goals can be set.  Goals must be measurable to be of any use.  So, setting and tracking progress on goals is critical to success and everyone wants Animal Outreach to be successful. Numbers can also let supporters know where the organization has been, where it is now and where it wants to go in the future.

There is a problem with these ideas though.  It takes time and staff or volunteer effort to produce.  It takes skilled labor that AO may not always have available.

This is where you, your friends and co-workers can help.  Volunteer, foster, donate and support Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode to ensure the organization has the resources it needs to provide the services for the community and yes, the public information you desire.  Write , visit or email Animal Outreach yourself.  AO’s contact information is provided at the end of this post.


Many people are attracted to volunteering with animal welfare organizations.  There is a lot of work to do that takes only a little training and yet the sense of accomplishment can be staggering.  The animals are grateful and you know it!  You can see it and you can feel it!  Examples of some of these hands-on rescue operations include:

  • Pulling (rescuing) dogs and cats from high-kill shelters or over burdened shelters
  • Transporting animals from a shelter to Animal Outreach
  • Transporting animals to AO for treatment or to an adoption event when a foster parent cannot
  • Fostering a dog or cat and seeing them adopted by their forever families
  • Providing socialization for the cats at the AO shelter
  • Providing clean water, clean liter boxes and/or a clean living environment to the cats at the AO shelter
  • Caring for the sick and injured animals AO has rescued
  • Providing adoption assistance to people looking for their next dog or cat

There is another part of rescue that does not necessarily involve direct, hands-on, live-supporting activities.  Much less glamorous perhaps, but just as important as all the other work to save the lives of animals.  I call these behind-the-scenes activities the business activities.  It takes skilled and some semi-skilled labor to keep the organization functioning and moving forward.  Examples of some  business activities include:

  • Financial accounting including payroll, payroll taxes and income tax accounting
  • Fundraising
  • Computer and network maintenance (Information Technology)
  • Data entry
  • Customer service including opening the snail mail, answering emails, answering and returning telephone calls and text messages
  • Supply management
  • Volunteer recruitment, training and management
  • Staff training and supervision
  • Shelter management and monitoring
  • Accounts payable and receivable activities
  • Marketing activities including community outreach, producing Facebook posts, writing newsletters, writing blogs, producing brochures and information sheets, producing and maintaining program information sheets, etc.
  • Establishing, updating and monitoring programs
  • And the list goes on and on

Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode has been serving California for over 20 years.  They do a lot for the community.  They do a lot for animals.  And, yes, they need to improve communication and reporting for their volunteers, donors and supporters.  It is not that they lack ideas on what to do.  I am sure they have an endless stream of “you should do this” coming at them.  I think they need a lot more skilled volunteers in the areas of finance, accounting, marketing and management.  I don’t know much about the business side of AO so I am assuming all this based on what I do know and what is not available now.  I have ideas for a Director of Marketing position.  If you are a Director of Marketing or know someone who is, please contact me or AO to discuss volunteering some of your valuable time.

Do you want to save the life of a dog or cat that has done nothing to deserve death at the hands of an over-burdened animal shelter?  Great!  Volunteer, donate, foster and support Animal Outreach of the Mother Lode.  Ask your friends and family to join you.  Together, we can get and keep this organization staffed with the professional, skilled and semi-skilled volunteer work force needed to get ALL the jobs done right, all of the time.

Go to Animal Outreach at 6101 Enterprise Drive Diamond Springs, CA and fill-out a volunteer application or get a volunteer application online at their website,  You can also telephone them at 530.642.2287.  I am always willing to answer any questions that I can.  Please contact me via email at or message me through Facebook.

A Day in the Life of an Animal Shelter Volunteer

A short story about volunteering with dogs at an animal shelter.

The true meaning of rescue

This is a must read for anyone who loves animals or likes their dog or is involved with animal rescue.

Training Rescue Dogs

Maddie’s Fund – Seeing Dogs as Individuals Key to Managing Behavior Problems.

Common Elements to No-Kill Success

Maddie’s Fund – Common Elements of No-Kill Success.

About Maddie’s Fund

Maddie’s Fund – About Us.

Pet Overpopulation Debunked

Pet Overpopulation Debunked.

Breaking It Down – Animal Rescue

By Diane Robertson

Following is a breakdown of the major steps involved in animal rescue.  Once an animal is rescued, there is another whole set of functions relating to fostering and getting those animals adopted.  So here we go….

  1. Identify High-Kill shelters in your area.  Talk to them, read their website and start a conversation with them about your organization and how you can help.
  2. Get on the approved rescue group list / alert list.  Most shelters evaluate rescue groups before placing them on their approved rescue group list.  Once approved, they may have an alert that goes out to their approved rescue groups regularly.  This alert often lists each of the animals nearing their PTS (Put to Sleep) date, a picture of the animal and a description.  If your shelter does not offer an email alert, find out more about their PTS schedule and how you can access records of animals in need of rescue (website, etc.).
  3. Based on the alerts and schedules of your shelters, routinely identify animals you would like to evaluate and get them evaluated (by yourself or use a trusted behavorist or shelter worker).  Remember that not every animal can be saved and that not every animal can be saved by you or your organization.   Some rescue  organizations specialize in certain breeds or categories of animals (horses, farm animals, pigs, dogs, pit bulls, cats, FeLV positive cats, senior dogs or cats, rats, birds, etc.).  Stay within your mission and budget when deciding on which animals to help.
  4. Obtain a commitment from foster parents or your shelter supervisor for the animals you will help.  Be sure to notify the county shelter/other organization which animals you will rescue and when you will arrive to pick up the animals.  Be sure you arrive on time, every time! If you will be late, be sure to call and let them know your new arrival time.
  5. Arrange for transportation.  This includes crates, cages, water bowls, etc and vehicles to transport the animals.  Be sure you have all the supplies you need for the rescue and that those animals and supplies will fit in the rescue vehicles.  If you have committed to a certain set of animals and you cannot take one or more of the animals due to your poor planning, the animal may be killed with no further rescue options.  For very long trips, be sure you plan for food, water, potty breaks and exercise breaks.
  6. Process the animals into your organization.  This includes data entry, microchipping, initial veterinary visit and possibly other activities.
  7. Assign animals to a foster parent or to your intake area .  Have the animals picked up/moved to the intake area.
  8. Medical Hold.  There is usually a 1-4 week waiting period where the animal is kept in quarantine to ensure that it is healthy or otherwise vetted, groomed, trained and allowed to relax into their new environment.  This waiting period ensures that when animals are moved to the “Available for Adoption” list, that they are in good physical shape, spayed or neutered if needed and ready for a new home.
  9. Place the animals on your Available for Adoption list /change the database to indicate their adoptable status.  Adoption processes can be very complex to simple, depending on your policies and procedures and the type of animals you are rescuing.

More to follow on policies and procedures for Rescue, Intake, Shelter and Adoption areas of a rescue organization.

The Solution Starts with You

By Diane Robertson

It is much too easy with our busy lives to dismiss the idea that “we” could help with the rescue of homeless animals.  Please read on to understand that there are many ways that everyone can and should help avoid the problem of homeless animals.

First, make sure you spay or neuter your dogs and cats.  Unless you are a breeder, there is no reason not to do this. There are low-cost options available almost everywhere.

Second, keep your companions happy and healthy and forever.  Commit yourself to keeping your animal regardless of the challenges you may face.  There are individuals and groups that can help.  If you are challenged by lack of money to feed your animals, a behavior problem, a move or another challenge you need to understand that there is help available.  Ask around, call the animal shelter, your local rescue groups and others.  Do not abandon your animal at the local pound!  Dropping your dog or cat off at the local shelter is cruel.  Your companion does not understand what is happening, they can become very stressed, can become sick and worse yet, may be immediately killed if they are old or perceived to be unadoptable.  You owe it to your dogs and cats to do everything possible to keep them with you forever.

What will happen to your animals if you suddenly pass away?  If you do not make plans for them now, there is a good chance that they will be taken to the local animal shelter when you die.  If you have a will or trust be sure to keep it updated with plans for your companion animals. If you don’t have a will, make one.  Everyone should have a will, even young people.  Legal Zoom ( is a good, low-cost source of legal documents that you can use to protect your family and companions.  If you are a senior citizen, check with your county Human Services department.  Many counties offer low-cost or free legal assistance to senior citizens.  If you have the money, contact an attorney who is familiar with setting up wills and trusts for animals.

Start a “Rainy Day” fund for your pets.  Just like you budget for car maintenance and clothing and groceries, you also need to budget for the cost of food and medical care for your animals.  If you start a separate account for your pets and make regular deposits, a visit to the vet or Emergency vet will not be a problem.  Planning ahead is the key to being successful both in life and love (or so I’m told).

In my next blog I will talk about the many ways you can help with the physical rescue and rehoming of companion animals.  There are many easy ways that everyone can help and it does not have to involve your money or opening your home to new animals.

Companion Animals 101

By Diane Robertson

I want to start my blog by saying that I was horrified to learn that up to 90% of the animals taken to animal shelters are killed.  Some shelters are the opposite, with “live release” numbers around 90% with about a 10% kill rate.  For those awesome shelters, we can safely assume the 10% were truly euthanized and not just killed.

There is a big difference between the words killed and euthanized.  Many people use the word euthanized because it sounds better than saying killed.  I would like to suggest that people use the correct terminology.  Pets are euthanized when they are suffering, when they have reached the end of the lives, when they are racked with cancer and other valid reasons.  It is an act of compassion.  Some animal shelters simply kill animals that have been surrendered to them or that have been caught as strays.  Really!  For example, there are many shelters that do not allow adoptions of pit bulls.  What this means is the animal comes in the front door and immediately goes out the back door in a body bag.  Most shelters have a 10-14 holding period after which the animal will be killed.  This includes perfectly healthy puppies, pure breed dogs and cats, and everything in between.

No kidding folks.  Check out the ASPCA, the No-Kill Nation and your local shelters.  They all tell the same story.  Also, your local shelter may also publicize their intake and adoption rates on their website or Facebook page.  Shelters that kill healthy animals often believe they are doing the right thing for the community.  They believe that there are not enough homes for all the animals and so this is work that must be done to control the dog and cat population.  I reject these arguments and so do millions of other people in this country.

How can you help?

  1. Get your dogs and cats fixed (spayed or neutered).  Most areas have low-cost and no-cost programs.  If you still cannot afford any small fee being charged, ask for help.  There are lots of folks out there that can afford $35 to help potentially save dozens of lives that just one unaltered dog or cat can produce.
  2. Adopt your next cat or dog from a rescue group or shelter.  Never buy a cat or dog on the Internet or from a breeder you do not know very well.  Many rescue groups have available animals at your local Petsmart store, online at, other websites and at local shelters.
  3. Help educate people on the importance of spaying and neutering their pets and learn about the TNR (trap, neuter and return) movement.  “Community” cats are becoming more common these days.  A community cat or colony of cats refers to unowned cats that live in the community but the entire community helps by leaving food and water out for the animals and providing some type of shelter for the animals.

I encourage everyone to read more about animal shelters, visit your local shelters, volunteer when possible, donate when possible and consider fostering a dog or cat until it can be adopted.


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