A couple of years ago Dr. Sheila D’Arpino, Veterinary Behaviorist at the Center for Shelter Dogs at the Animal Rescue League of Boston, created a volunteer group called the ‘Mod Squad’.
The MSPCA came up with the name for their trainers; we loved it so much, we asked them for permission to use it, and they happily accepted. This group of canine companion volunteers is unique because all members demonstrate stellar training skills and a great deal of commitment to the volunteer program at the Animal Rescue League of Boston. They work hard and spend a lot of time working with the dogs in our shelter.
The idea came up when we, as a group at CSD, started to really get to know these volunteers. We saw that they would come every week and would do various tasks such as participating in shelter dog obedience classes, bath night, city walks, photographing dogs, spending quiet time with them, participating in special adoption events and always seemed to look forward to working with every individual dog, including the difficult ones of the bunch. That was great to see because this philosophy is the key component to many of our programs.
These volunteers get to know our dogs as individuals. They ask about them and give ideas on how to improve their welfare, sometimes they even take them home for the weekend and they’re always out there promoting these dogs to all of their friends and families to do their part in matching them with the right homes. They also choose a variety of different dogs, some smaller ones, some big, affectionate, or excitable – but no matter what, they love them all even if they each have their favorites.
Once we really started implementing our enrichment and behavior modification programs into the shelter, we, by default, started calling on these particular volunteers and that’s when it dawned on us – with all of their skills, excitement, dedication, and commitment they have shown, we thought it would be great for them to have more responsibility and teach others. Who else could be better to help us pilot some of our programs? That’s when they became The Mod Squad!
– Laney Nee, Behavior Programs Supervisor at the Center for Shelter Dogs