Phase 2: Advanced Course

The Maddie’s® Million Pet Challenge 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 readings, and the Fear Free Shelter Program.

After completing the Foundational Course, participants can apply to complete Phase 2: Advanced Course to participate in an on-site professional consultation at a client shelter.

The Advanced Course

Upon completion of the Foundational Course, the Advanced Course is available by application to working shelter veterinarians and 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.

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 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 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. Zoom meetings will be scheduled the week before travel to discuss an overview of the shelter, the role of the shelter veterinarian and what to expect during the consult.

Mentees will then participate in an on-site 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, preventative 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 shelter 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.

By the end of the Advanced Course, you will be able to . . .

  • Critically review state statutes and local ordinances and provide guidance to overcome life-saving 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.

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

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 on-site experience with a consultation team, free of charge.