By Cari Tetzlaff, Behavioral Department Manager, Oshkosh Area Humane Society
Oshkosh Area Humane Society (OAHS) is very excited to announce the launch of our new behavioral department, generously supported by a $7,500 Community Impact Grant from the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. These new services will help us educate individuals to restore and enhance the bond between them and pets they want to keep, and also provide better care and support for animals who become homeless and enter our care.
The success of the spay and neuter movement has altered the landscape of sheltering. What many shelters across our state are experiencing is that healthy animals without any notable behavioral concerns get adopted almost instantly, leaving a population of animals that have behavior challenges. We are evolving to meet these changing needs of the community and the animal population our organization serves.
The ability to offer phone and in-person behavioral consultations to the public for free or at a reduced cost is a service that many shelters do not offer. This allows our organization to prevent surrenders, gather accurate behavioral profiles on incoming animals, or more safely and successfully place animals with special needs into homes.
We have gotten some great feedback already on the difference this programming is making from community members who have used our behavioral services and from the volunteers who are conducting on-site behavioral support for animals in our care.
“At the beginning of the year, we brought Daisy home as a foster dog. We were concerned about her ability to live with our three cats…rightly so, as she spent inordinate amounts of time at the separating gate staring, whining, and barking at them. Cari to the rescue! She came to our house to work with us. Cari confirmed that some of the things we were doing right, and showed us how to change things we were doing that weren’t so good. We would not have adopted Daisy this summer if it weren’t for Cari’s in-home behavior training and assistance.” ~ Ann Marie Johnson, adopter
We feel providing our community access to a credentialed, professional behavioral consultant helps families make informed choices about their companion animal’s options, keeps animals out of the shelter system that do not need to become homeless, and improves the efficiency and success of placing animals whose guardians have no other choice but to surrender them to our agency.
“As a volunteer I’ve received formal training on how to reduce common problem behaviors in dogs using positive reinforcement based methods. The public is sometimes misinformed by the training techniques shown in popular television programs and is hungry for this type of information. I’ve personally leveraged the training I’ve received from OAHS to both prepare shelter dogs for their future homes and keep adopted dogs in their homes.” ~ James Affeldt, OAHS volunteer
As the new behavioral department manager at OAHS, I bring with me a bachelor’s degree in education, a certification in dog training through Karen Pryor Academy, and a history of leading on-site behavioral modification programs for dogs already in the shelter system. Our organization and our community value having someone with my credentials and passion available to provide these services. The Oshkosh community is truly one the lives of the animals with whom we share our homes and hearts.