Posts Tagged ‘orientation’

BARCS Volunteer Orientation

Posted in Uncategorized on August 17th, 2009 by katie – Be the first to comment

The initial BARCS volunteer orientation was Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 3:00pm. There were a total of eight of us, plus the volunteer and events coordinator. He was quite distracted and frazzled because they were getting ready to take a group of animals to an event at 4:00. I quickly realized just how understaffed they really are.

He first gave us some background on BARCS and described the many opportunities for volunteers. He emphasized a lot of the changes that have been made since BARCS took over from the city shelter in 2005. For example,since then, their adoption rate has increased over 2,000%, but they still have a long way to go to catch up to places like the Maryland SPCA and HSBC, who have a lot more resources and are able to offer things like dog training classes for all adopted dogs. BARCS is working hard to get visibility, and he said that they often do three promotional events per week, all staffed completely by volunteers.

He also said that they take in all animals, not just dogs and cats. Apparently at one point there were several alligators brought in!

The main thing they need volunteers for is escorting. Since BARCS is the intake shelter for cruelty, neglect, and bite cases for Baltimore City, they can’t have people wandering around unattended, so all shelter visitors have to have an escort take them back when they come to look at animals. This means that BARCS is in urgent need of people to escort visitors, especially during busy times.┬áIn addition to escorting, they also need people to walk and train dogs and to do cat socialization. The dogs and cats that we will be interacting with will have all gone through intake vaccinations and behavior assessments. In order to do these things, we have to complete special volunteer training courses in addition to the basic volunteer orientation. I have signed up to do the dog walking training next week, which is in two parts. Once that is done I can take the escort class and be ready to go! They are also offering training in dog training, special events, and pet photography and petfinder listings, so I will hopefully be able to attend those as well soon.

As part of the volunteer orientation, we went on a quick tour of the shelter. As expected, it was about 90% pit bulls in the dog kennels. One thing our guide mentioned is that if you see a dog sitting at the front of its kennel, give it a treat so that it learns that’s a good behavior, and is more likely to get adopted. Cute, but also sad at the same time. We saw the “Rainbow Room,” which is where they do euthanasia. We saw a chart in the hallway that lists every dog, and has a check mark next to their name indicating that they’ve been walked that day. A few dogs had X’s next to their names, because they are not to be walked due to aggression or other issues. I was pleased to see that every dog without an X had been walked, and that was probably a result, the volunteer coordinator told us, of a certain volunteer who always makes sure every dog gets to go outside that is allowed.

Just in the halls we passed a 120 lb Rottweiler being processed for intake, several mama dogs with teeny tiny puppies, and a littler of orphaned kittens that needed to be bottle-fed. He told us that they process as many as 50 new animals a DAY. We met one of the animal control officers and saw the animal control vans in a garage with stacks of 100+ plastic and metal carrying crates. One of the most overwhelming things I saw was a room full of mama cats. Each cage held a mama cat and her litter of 6-8 kittens. I’ve never seen kittens that small – they were the size of hamsters! It dawned on me that there were about 10 cages in that room, and not only do each of those mama cats need a home, but so do all of her kittens. There were probably a total of 200 total cats there that day. It’s was a lot to take in…

Hopefully as an escort I can help move more people through the shelter and get more animals out the door alive. I think that BARCS is making great strides, and I know that they will continue to grow and achieve great things. I’m looking forward to being a part of it, no matter how tough it might be.