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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

The Cestone Foundation Awards Grant to AWA

Sep 02, 2018 11:55AM

The Animal Welfare Association (AWA) was recently awarded a $15,000 grant from the Cestone Foundation to support shelter diversion and retention activities. These funds will assist shelter staff in their efforts to educate, engage and enrich the community, and keep pets inside their homes. 

The Engage, Educate and Enrich diversion program consists of a variety of tactics that are aimed at keeping companion animals out of shelters. These tactics include a call center hotline, community education programs, human education programs and a pet pantry that provides free pet food to owners. 

AWA’s goal of keeping companion animals from entering the shelter is expensive and labor intensive. The shelter staff works hard towards providing community members and pets owners with the necessary resources to handle medical and behavior concerns that may cause them to relinquish their pets to the shelter. 

Katie Ritter, volunteer and outreach coordinator, notes “These programs are designed to teach people of all ages compassion, respect and empathy, for all living creatures as well as strengthen the human-animal bond.”

According the ASPCA, pet problems are the primary reason that owners need to rehome their pets. This accounts for 47 percent of rehomed dogs and 42 percent of rehomed cats. Problems included pets growing too large, aggressive behaviors and health problems, which owners felt they were not equipped to handle. However, many behaviors and medical issues can be corrected with proper training and treatment provided by AWA’s pet care resources.  Pet owners that have more support provided to them are less likely to relinquish their pet. 

Special events and community programs manager Sophia Barrett continues, “Staff travels outside of the shelter into the community to speak to students in surrounding schools about proper treatment and safety around animals. This helps them better understand pets within their own homes from a young age.” 

The shelter staff continues to expand their programs and find new strategies to educate the surrounding community. 

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