Compassion in Balance (CiB) Program

Animal shelters and veterinary clinics are high stress, trauma-exposed workplaces. Staff are at increased risk for empathic distress (also known as compassion fatigue), stress injury, and burnout. These occupational hazards reduce staff effectiveness and impede the organization’s capacity to achieve their mission. Organizations selected will receive educational resources designed to help leaders and staff better understand the impact of trauma exposure and build resiliency into the workforce. Through a combination of live webinars and on-demand courses, participants will learn new skills and approaches to developing healthier workplaces at the individual, team, and leadership levels.

Tackling Compassion Fatigue and Complex Stress Isn’t Easy, But Organizations Can’t Afford to Ignore This Issue.

Trauma-exposed work creates a unique environment with an increased risk for distress and burnout. This can lead to increased sick time, low morale, lack of team cohesion, and high turnover, all of which will limit a team’s ability to work effectively and efficiently.
This reduces the organization’s ability to achieve their mission.

Does any of this sound familiar? Symptoms of organizational compassion fatigue include:

  • Reluctance to change
  • Rampant rumors and gossip
  • Aggression and increased conflict among staff members
  • Apathy and reduced engagement
  • Reactivity and inappropriate outbursts

Animal welfare professionals are particularly susceptible to secondary traumatic stress because of the vulnerable nature of the animals they care for, the high volume and unpredictable nature of their jobs, and their relative lack of psychological protection.

Developing resilience through professional training can buffer workers from emotional exhaustion and improve their overall wellbeing, helping them to succeed in their important work.

The first step is to better understand the impact of stress and trauma exposure on staff and then to intentionally build resiliency into the workforce through preventive and ongoing support at the individual, team, and organizational levels.

The Compassion in Balance (CiB) Program has the answers.

Thanks to the generosity of Maddie’s Fund ® , The Maddie’s ® Million Pet Challenge is offering organizations a variety of learning opportunities, including live webinars and self-paced online classes, led by an expert facilitator, completely free of charge. Priority is being given to organizations that have the desire to explore these issues at both the individual and organizational levels.

Jessica Dolce, compassion fatigue and team wellness expert facilitator


The Compassion in Balance Program will be led by Jessica Dolce, a Certified Compassion Fatigue Educator and instructor with the Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida. Jessica brings ten years of experience supporting animal welfare and care professionals to her online training program.

If you are chosen for this opportunity, the MMPC will provide training to build compassion resilience with the program’s core skills:

  • Increase Awareness and Competence. Understanding the impact of trauma-exposed work, along with the practices that can mitigate it, is a critical first step for individuals and organizations. With increased self-awareness and self-regulation skills, staff will be able to reduce reactivity and develop intentional optimism and hope.
  • Develop Balance and Healthy Coping Skills. Animal care is emotionally challenging work. Participants will learn how to navigate intense emotions, build healthy boundaries, and refuel with self-care. These are critical skills for every person to learn in order to do more effective, ethical, and sustainable work.
  • Foster Strong Connections and Caring Culture. Participants will connect to explore shared values and strengths in order to make positive changes. Cultivating support and collaboration among all staff levels can reduce conflict and create a more resilient, caring culture within your organization.