Having been involved with SAWA in one capacity or another for more than 30 years, I’ve leaned on our professional association for many things. All those years ago, as a new member, I was a sponge soaking up information and studying the “masters” in our industry. I’ve attended most conferences through the years and have assimilated as much of the content as my brain could hold. And, as your CEO, I am so proud of the direction we’re headed as we continue to live our mission of bringing out the best in animal welfare and animal care and control leaders.
One of the things I’m most proud of is our Best Practices and Emerging Trends Committee. Comprised of some of the best and brightest in our industry, this committee has already produced two fame-changing bodies of work and is deeply engaged in the third. The first Best Practices document covered companion animal transport programs. As one of the many life-saving tools in our industry toolbox, transport has become a major strategy for moving animals from places of high supply and low demand to places where demand is much higher and where available pets are not nearly so plentiful. Our committee grappled with all the various elements of transport, from considerations prior to establishing a program to building true partnerships between source and destination communities.
As the first document was being developed we asked ourselves: Are we looking to set “minimum standards” for transport programs or do we want to emphasize the “best” in “best practices”? It was agreed that SAWA should only stand for the true best. It’s upon that premise that all of our Best Practices documents have been, and will continue to be, developed.
At our Management Conference last June we released Best Practices document number two. Our topic this time around was Animal Enrichment programs. While shelters have been engaged in continuous improvement when it comes to the physical care of animals, for many the notion of behavioral/mental well-being has not been top of mind. Our Animal Enrichment Best Practices document aims to change that, ensuring shelters emphasize the importance of caring for the whole animal — emotional health included.
For each of these documents, in addition to our standing committee of industry experts, we add carious subject-matter experts to guide the conversation. These folks volunteers their time — oftentimes lots of it — to make sure we can put the word “best” on these documents.
While we understand that resources are often limited and achieving all elements included in a SAWA Best Practices document may not always happen instantaneously, we believe it is important for all organizations to pursue them with purpose and intent. It is that effort — that striving to be the best — that separates SAWA members from the rest of the pack.
Thanks for all that each of you do for the animals and people in your communities. And thank you for contributing to the advancement of your industry through your work with SAWA. Our tagline says we are “Leaders Committed to Excellence.” And, I, for one, am thankful every day that that statement is far more than a tagline. It is a mantra that drives us and our members to put the “best” in “best practices.”