Pet Shelter Staff and Volunteers Attend Animal Care Expo
Two representatives from Marshfield Area Pet Shelter (MAPS) recently attended the annual Animal Care Expo, an international convention to learn about every aspect of animal shelter care and network with experts from throughout the country.
Kaitlin Loberg (Shelter Manager) and Karen Rau (MAPS President) attended this year’s conference May 9-12 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, teaming up with Humane Society of Portage County representatives Brett Jarman (V.P. Board of Directors) Alyssa Bupp & Amy Gilbert (CVTs), and Shelley Janowski (Volunteer Coordinator).
“Basically it’s a massive group of people in the animal shelter field getting together and sharing their knowledge about animal care, talking to the public, working with volunteers, adoptions, and how to keep your shelter up to date with the latest research and information from around the U.S.,” said Loberg.
“More than 52 countries were represented at this conference. That’s a lot of information being shared in just 4 days,” added Rau.
Along with the workshops and lectures, Loberg enjoyed talking with companies that work with shelters, those doing everything from selling live traps to pet beds to blood testing equipment, to those managing microchipping databases and grant foundations.
“The exhibit hall was definitely a highlight for me, I was like a kid in a candy store!” she said. “It was like someone had ‘googled’ animal shelter vendors and the results all showed up in one room!”
Also a Certified Veterinary Technician, Loberg was able to build on her already extensive knowledge base about animal care by learning how other shelters manage various issues.
“The biggest benefit I received was being able to discuss problems that I had run into and find out that other people in the field were having the same problems as well,” she said. “It was wonderful to be in a place where everyone there was fighting for the rights of animals and empowering to know there are so many people out there working toward the same goal as us.”
A generous individual who has previously attended the Expo donated funds specifically so that Loberg and Rau could make the trip and reap its benefits, and also provided gear (such as backpacks and jackets) with MAPS logos to help them look like a team, all gestures for which the two women are extremely grateful.
“We cannot thank the fine folks at HSPC enough for taking a new organization like MAPS under their wing and providing us with this tremendous opportunity to attend the conference with them,” said Rau. “We are so fortunate to have a network of resources like the staff and volunteers at HSPC mentoring us to refine our skills and become a well-rounded organization.”
“Both Karen and I are coming back with more information on improving the shelter than
either of us has ever received before,” added Loberg. “On top of that, there is a renewed vigor to create change in our organization and community. There is just something empowering about being surrounded by like minded people who believe in the same goals as you, to fight for homeless pets.”
Loberg and Rau hope to attend again in the future, as new information is continually being developed and presented. For both, the experience was definitely worthwhile.
“I am incredibly thankful to have had this opportunity and feel very lucky to be working every day on something that I feel so passionate about,” said Loberg.
“It is an incredible feeling knowing that we (MAPS) are among thousands of people and organizations making a difference in the lives of not only animals, but people also across the globe,” said Rau. “It was reassuring to me personally to know that we are heading in the right direction with animal welfare for our community. We have a lot of work to do yet, but so far we are following many of the current practices of animal sheltering.”