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COVID-19 Leadership Lessons: Nonprofit & Government Shelter Collaboration

April 9, 2020, The Association

If there’s one thing that’s emerged from the animal sheltering community during this pandemic, it’s that collaboration is key. The HSUS’ Kim Alboum and The Association’s Katherine Shenar sat down with Shelly Moore, President and CEO of Humane Society of Charlotte (HSC), and her colleague, Dr. Josh Fisher, Animal Services Director for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (C-MECK), to chat about how they’re communicating and supporting each other during COVID-19. Watch the complete interview and check out the highlights below.

Check In Daily

Partnering up is nothing new for Moore and Fisher–HSC and C-MECK have collaborated on behalf of Charlotte’s pets and their people for years. But the key to their current collaboration in two words? Daily calls. As a government agency, Fisher has VIP access to local government and elected officials and is the first to know about upcoming state, city and local directives that will impact sheltering policies and procedures. “This gives us a broader view when we talk,” he says. Add in recommendations from national animal welfare orgs and veterinary organizations, and together they are poised to make the most informed decisions for Charlotte.

Moore also checks in with her direct reports daily and asks these 4 key questions:

  • What has shifted?
  • How is the morale of staff?
  • What’s our animal population looking like?
  • What challenge are we seeing?

Empower Your Fosters to Adopt Out Their Animals

At the time of the interview, Fisher reported just 50 animals in C-MECK’s physical facility.  Hundreds of other dogs and cats are being cared for by foster volunteers—and ideally will be adopted straight from these foster homes. “Once we get them out of our building,” he says, “we want to make sure they stay out of the building.” Both Moore and Fisher spoke of the need for supporting fosters in facilitating these adoptions—whether it’s posting videos of the available fosters on the shelter’s social media channels, or providing downloadable and customizable templates so that fosters can make flyers for their animals.

Zoom Is Your Friend

“Our communications—both with HSC staff and with C-MECK–have become much more efficient and effective now that we’ve learned how to use this new technology,” says Moore. It’s definitely something that will continue into the future. Before, Moore and her strategic team would have a monthly lunch with C-MECK leadership—thanks to their newly acquired virtual conferencing skills, the teams don’t have to wait for in-person meetings to connect.

Support Your Staff and Give Them Options

When several employees whose jobs entail coming into the shelter expressed fear of being exposed to the virus, Moore gave all of her on-site staff the ability to choose. “We allow them to opt out if they’re uncomfortable being here,” she says. 

At C-MECK, Fisher has shifted to a model of multiple teams with rotating schedules, without any crossover time between shifts in order to limit exposure. This has gone far to ease their minds that the community’s animals will be taken care of. “They know there’s a back-up, so they don’t have to worry about that and can focus on home if they need to,” says Fisher. 

Switch From Take-Out to Delivery

HSC runs a large weekly pet food bank serving 200 families, where pet owners would come in weekly to pick up food and supplies. “We’ve now shifted to delivery,” says Moore, “and it works great. We let them know we’re coming ahead of time and leave food on the doorstep.”

More Leadership Lessons

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5 Leadership Lessons with Lisa LaFontaine

About The Association
The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement is a cohort of leaders on a mission to champion, advance, and unify the animal welfare profession.

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