Are you ready to increase your observation skills, research capability, knowledge of shelter operations guidelines, communication skills, animal data interpretation, and analysis of shelter systems to help make shelters more efficient, safer, and better at helping animals and their people? You bring the motivation and we’ll bring an immersive training experience!
Thanks to the generosity of Maddie’s Fund, the Maddie’s Million Pet Challenge is offering skilled animal welfare professionals the opportunity for self-study and immersive onsite experience with a consultation team, free of charge.

The Shelter Consultation Mentorships will be led by Dr. Sara Pizano from Team Shelter USA and Cameron Moore, Dr. Julie Levy, and Dr. Cynda Crawford from Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida.

The Foundational Course

The Shelter Consultation Mentorship Program is conducted in two phases. Training begins with the Foundational Course, in which mentees complete an online self-study program, required reading, and the Fear Free Shelter Program.

The Advanced Course

Mentees admitted to the Advanced Course will participate side-by-side with shelter medicine faculty and expert consultants in a professional assessment of a client animal shelter. Mentees will develop an understanding and appreciation for the challenges shelter leaders face while working to meet the needs of animals and their families inside and outside the shelter.

Prior to visiting the shelter, mentees will learn to plan for an assessment of an animal shelter’s operations and to perform a holistic approach, including review of currently available programs in the community, state laws, local ordinances, municipal contracts, the organizational chart, website and social media activity, and chain of command. During the research phase, local decision-makers may be identified and in-person meetings scheduled ahead of time. This may include mayors, commissioners, municipal attorneys, county administrators, shelter managers, and boards of directors. Mentees will collect, analyze, and report on shelter animal data from a shelter management software program, and calculate epidemiological statistics and trends related to annual and seasonal intake, length of stay, capacity, and outcomes.

Mentees will then participate in an onsite visit to the shelter and collaborate in designing practical recommendations designed to optimize shelter operations, including recommendations on topics such as sanitation, environmental controls, nutrition, medical and surgical protocols, animal handling, transport, facility design, housing, preventive health care protocols, and infectious disease control.

Communication and leadership skills will be practiced by leading discussions with the consultation team on assigned assessment topics and by preparing written and in-person recommendations for optimizing shelter operations. Following the visit, mentees will participate in follow-up meetings with shelter managers to address challenges to implementation, track progress, and provide ongoing support for the shelter.

If after reading all of the qualifying requirements and completing the Foundational Course, you believe you are a good candidate for the Advanced Course, apply here.

Have a fundamental knowledge of the following key shelter assessment topics:

  • Introduction to animal welfare assessments
  • Key research before onsite assessment visit
  • Community programs and the link to shelter success
  • Community cat management programs
  • Intake policies and managed admissions
  • Population management
  • Live outcome programs
  • Onsite assessment overview
  • Community messaging
  • Recommendations and reports
  • Follow-up post assessment
  • The Fear Free Shelter Program
  • Critically review state statutes and local ordinances and provide guidance to overcome lifesaving barriers, eliminate the waste of resources, and overcome barriers to life-saving.
  • Understand the organizational infrastructure and chain of command and how/why it affects shelter policies.
  • Identify key decision-makers early in the assessment process in order to maximize the impact of the onsite assessment.
  • Educate elected officials and civic leaders regarding public and shelter policy using national and local data, trends, and research.
  • Demonstrate effective communication with a variety of stakeholders, such as civic leaders, shelter leaders, staff, private organizations, animal welfare funders, media, and the public.
  • Analyze key performance indicators to assess organizational performance, compare to industry norms, and benchmark to standards of excellence.
  • Prioritize opportunities for the greatest impact across shelter operations, including management of admissions, populations, health, welfare, housing, length of stay, and best outcomes for each animal.
  • Create an action step checklist and trend analysis to help the organization implement systems change and monitor progress.
  • Link stakeholders to others with similar struggles who have overcome the same obstacles.
  • Identify pertinent resources, reading material, webinars, etc. for shelter leadership.
  • Monitor implementation of recommendations and trouble-shoot barriers to success.
  • What is included in the sponsored program? All training is provided at no cost.
  • What is not included in the sponsored program? Participants are responsible for their own travel arrangements and expenses. Information about where the consultation team is staying and travel times will be provided to the mentees several months in advance. It is often possible to share vehicles for local travel and hotel rooms with other participants if desired.
  • Who should take the Foundational Course? Anyone interested in learning more about how to assess operations in their own shelter or in other shelters is welcome to enroll in the course.
  • Who should apply to the Advanced Course? The Advanced Course is available by application to working professionals on a space-available basis. Most mentees have been shelter medicine interns, residents, veterinarians, veterinary students, shelter leaders and managers, representatives from national organizations, and others who are working toward leadership positions in animal welfare.
  • When and where are the shelter consultations for the Advanced Course held? The schedule and location of each consultation varies according to the needs and location of the shelters. Our shelter consultations have spanned from Hawaii to Puerto Rico. Mentees accepted to participate in the Advanced Course will be notified several months in advance when consultations are available to join.
  • Who leads the Advanced Course? Sara Pizano and Cameron Moore are the primary leaders of the Shelter Consultation Mentorships. Dr. Julie Levy, Dr. Cynda Crawford, and others may participate depending on the key topics of interest.
  • What is the Fear Free Shelter Program? The Fear Free Shelter Program is an online self-study course with a goal to improve the experiences of animals by educating shelter, rescue, and animal welfare employees and volunteers about the animals’ emotional needs. The program will empower you to apply key strategies and techniques designed to reduce the negative emotional states that are commonly experienced by shelter and rescue animals—including fear, anxiety, stress (FAS), and frustration—and increase their enrichment opportunities. This program is suitable for every individual involved in the care and oversight of shelter and rescue animals. Completion of the Fear Free Shelters program will earn 5 credits of RACE-approved continuing education.
  • How much time should I plan for the Foundational self-study course? The two modules in the online self-study course can be completed in 2.5 hours. The online Fear Free Shelter Program can be completed in approximately 10 hours. In addition, there are approximately 200 pages of assigned reading to complete. It is possible to complete all of the course requirements in about 15 hours. This course is 100 percent self-paced, and the work can be done at any time, from any device. You do not have to be in class at specific times.
  • How much time should I plan for the Advanced Course? The Advanced Course requires several hours of research and conference calls in the weeks prior to the shelter visit. The shelter visit itself is usually five days long with additional travel time. Several hours of follow-up conference calls and report review are scheduled in the weeks following the consultation visit. Some mentees return to the shelter to assist with implementation of the report recommendations.
  • Are CEUs available? In jurisdictions that recognize RACE approval, the online self-study course has been approved for 2.5 hours of continuing education credit, and the Fear Free Shelter Program has been approved for 5 hours. This class has been pre-approved for 2.5 Certified Animal Welfare Administrator continuing education credits by The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement. Veterinarians attending the advanced course are eligible for 6 contact hours for each day of onsite consultation for Veterinary Continuing Education Credit through the University of Florida. Veterinarians participating from other states should contact their licensing board for guidance.

A collaboration of UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program at UF, Open Door Veterinary Collective, and Team Shelter USA.

Maddie’s® Million Pet Challenge is creating transformative “communities of practice” that deliver access to care through humane, community-centric programming—inside and outside of the shelter—to achieve the right outcome for every pet. Our consultative mentoring services are holistic, deep and practical, and delivered by the proven team who brought you the Million Cat Challenge, in expanded partnership with Open Door Veterinary Collective. This program is made available at no cost to participants, #ThanksToMaddie