This week, Tabitha is joined by the Behavior and Training Manager at Friends For Life Animal Shelter, Melissa Taylor.
Melissa and I discuss the division between animal care and medical staff often seen in shelters, the importance of volunteers and community, and how our past experiences have helped us grow. She shares her wisdom of how her shelter has built relationships with the community, the benefits of volunteers, volunteer retention, and success stories of volunteer-based programs in her shelter.
Melissa Taylor (CBCC-KA, CSB-C) is the Behavior and Training Manager at Friends For Life Animal Shelter, a progressive animal welfare organization in Houston, Texas. At FFL, Melissa heads a comprehensive, animal-centered behavior program which includes in-house animal care, community outreach, and inter-shelter consultation. Melissa has logged more than twenty years in shelter animal behavior, starting with an internship at the ASPCA’s Animal Behavior Center in New York City. She developed a lasting love for cooperative care from training livestock and wildlife as the coordinator of the Behavior and Training Department at the Houston SPCA, and applies the same principles to the dogs, cats, exotics, and humans she works with now at Friends For Life.
Over the course of her career, Melissa has focused on the development of shelter programs related to animal behavior. She has partnered with other shelters locally and around the world to start behavior volunteer, fearful cat socialization, enrichment, and animal-centered staff training initiatives.
Melissa was awarded the 2022 Member of the Year Award by the Association For Professional Dog Trainers due to her work on the APDT Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee examining the experiences of BIPOC members of the professional dog training community. She is passionate about the role that social justice issues play in the advancement of animal welfare.
Resources mentioned on the episode:
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships (Nonviolent Communication Guides) by Marshall B. Rosenberg PhD
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