Dog Trainer & Adoption Specialist
Approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year and approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized. Unfortunately, about 30 percent of the animals in shelters are left there by their owners, typically due to aggressive behavior or animals growing larger than anticipated. This leads to approximately half of all rehomed pets being abandoned at shelters. I believe this is completely preventable through proper training and owner education.
I began volunteering at animal shelters in 2012 at TCGC in Kingsport, TN, working adoption events on the weekends. While there, I helped almost 100 dogs and cats get adopted (one to my own family). After moving to Chattanooga, TN for college I volunteered for the SPCA of Chattanooga, where I kept the animal areas sanitary, completed evening feedings, and worked with reactive dogs in preparation for adoption events.
Volunteering with these shelters made feel like part of a solution – instead of just letting reactive or depressed dogs waste away in a shelter, we worked with them constantly to rehabilitate them into a more docile and obedient temperament through reward training. Before setting up the final adoption papers, I compiled lists of average sizing, temperament, potential health issues, and fixes for common behavioral issues. I would then go over all of this with potential owners to ensure they had a realistic expectations in order to decrease the risk of any pets being returned. Many of these stray dogs had few positive interactions with people, so seeing them go from timid or aggressive to cuddled up on a couch wearing a sweater with their new family was incredibly rewarding and worth every second.