Women of Industry: Pam McCloud Smith advocates for furry, feathered friends

Among the creative ways that Pam McCloud Smith, executive director of the Dane County Humane Society, has developed to promote animal welfare, she is proudest of reaching out to the community to keep animals in their homes — for the benefit of animals and their owners.

Under her direction, the organization not only serves more than 8,000 animals per year with state-of-the-art shelter management, it has developed humane-education programs, collaborated with community partners such as the UW–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, and established events such as Community Dog Days. Combined, they have led to a steady decrease in shelter intake of surrendered and stray dogs and cats.

With several of its programming ideas being adopted nationwide, the DCHS stands as an industry leader in animal welfare. For her creativity and for positioning the local humane society as a regional, state, and national leader, McCloud Smith has been selected as a member of IB’s Women of Industry class of 2017.

Pet projects

The humane society does this through its humane-education programs, building partnerships with local organizations, and staging events that bring together people and resources. McCloud Smith continues to embrace constructive change and encourage innovation by her staff, which she refers to as her animal, and in a sense, human welfare team. “Big picture, it’s about going beyond animal sheltering and reaching out into the community to keep animals in their homes, and promoting a more humane community,” she explains.

Asked if she’s trying to “program” herself out of business, Smith points out that creating a community of staff and volunteers that work together in so many different ways to help people and animals “has really created a special thing for us here, and it’s just wonderful to be part of a team like that. We approach things as a team, and then by creating all these partnerships, we’re able to do so much more.”

Perhaps the best illustration of this is Community Dog Days. That’s where volunteer veterinarians visit local neighborhoods and offer free exams, vaccinations, dog food and supplies, and ID tags. “We have a whole slew of volunteer veterinarians, technicians, staff, and volunteers that go, and we set up services for the day for people to come in and get their animals a free vet exam, vaccinations, pet food, supplies, collars, ID tags — things that are hopefully helpful to them and their pets so that they can stay together.”

Also among the community partnerships that have helped more animals achieve positive outcomes are: the Maddie’s Community Collaborative Grant initiative to become “adoption guaranteed” (i.e., saving all adoptable and treatable animals); the humane society’s work with the UW–Madison Shelter Medicine program to implement more progressive and effective lifesaving programs; and its collaborative work with Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin, where a Pet Food Pantry program collects donated pet food and cat litter throughout the community and makes them available at food pantries. This “Help Keep Pets in Their Homes” program has collected and distributed more than 190,000 pounds of pet food and cat litter to several Dane County food pantries.

In addition, the DCHS works in partnership with Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) to find temporary shelter for pets of domestic-abuse victims. A major reason abuse victims stay with their abuser is they fear for the safety of their pet, and DCHS provides a safe place for their companion animal while DAIS helps the individual find a safer environment free from the abuser.

The humane society also works with WisCARES, an organization dedicated to helping homeless individuals in Madison find housing while working with foster organizations to provide housing and care for their pets until they can be reunited again.

In addition, DCHS has developed adult and puppy dog training classes to help build strong bonds between owners and their new companions, and it’s a recognized leader in shelter medicine and opened the world’s first Dermatophyte (ringworm) Treatment Center, named the Maddie’s Felines in Treatment (F.I.T) Center.

Originally, DCHS’s goal was to be able to treat all ringworm-positive cats that come to the shelter, but it has taken in hundreds of cats in need from neighboring communities where their animal shelter wasn’t equipped to medically treat them. Without this program, now being implemented nationwide and developed in conjunction with UW School of Veterinary Medicine, shelters would have had to euthanize these cats due to lack of resources and space. It has only continued to grow, reaching the 1,000 cats treated milestone in July 2017.

This year, DCHS also completed a renovation to its Wildlife Center due to the ever-increasing intake of orphaned and injured wildlife, and its Animal Medical Services clinic is undergoing renovation to increase the number of surgeries it can provide to animals in its care.

Dane County Humane Society also has a goal to increase adoptions and decrease euthanasia, and thanks to generous community support, it has reached its goal to become an adoption-guarantee shelter. That means it can save all healthy and treatable animals, and it now has a live-release rate of 90% for dogs and 86% for cats, establishing DCHS as a lifesaving leader locally and nationwide.

Managed intake is another new concept in animal sheltering that McCloud Smith recently brought to Dane County. Managed intake, not to be confused with limited intake, refers to a process in which admission to the shelter is scheduled based on the shelter’s capacity to provide care. That way, animals will not suffer worse harm by admission to a crowded shelter.

Fast-tracking is yet another lifesaving concept implemented under McCloud Smith’s leadership. This is where staff identifies highly adoptable animals and speeds their movement through the system by quickly addressing any issues that could delay a quick adoption. The longer an animal stays in a shelter, the greater the chance that it will pick up a transmissible disease and suffer from stress, and stress often brings on deterioration of behavior, reducing the chances for adoption.

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National impact

Several DCHS programs have been, if you’ll pardon the expression, adopted by humane societies nationwide. Many are taught in multiple courses through the nation’s only certificate program in Lifesaving Animal Shelter Management at University of the Pacific in California. These concepts, taught through webinars, articles, and whitepapers, are reaching shelter management nationwide. In addition, McCloud Smith frequently consults with shelters and hosts site visits as participants learn about DCHS’s daily animal care, managed intake, ringworm treatment, medical treatment, wildlife operations, and fundraising practices.

Widespread impact is flattering, but creating a local community of staff and volunteers that work on behalf of people and animals is more meaningful to McCloud Smith. “I have always had an attachment to animals, as do my colleagues,” she explains. “It’s really about the team. I get satisfaction from seeing the team succeed and seeing the team members work together on things, and take ideas and really develop them to see how they will be received in the community.”

The ultimate goal of being an animal welfare resource is for animals to be a part of people’s lives because of the bond and joy they bring. “It’s nice to help make those connections, whether it’s through pets that don’t have homes, or even reuniting lost pets with their owners,” she notes. “There is a situation where people are struggling to keep their pets, whether they can’t afford that care or maybe something happens in their lives that changes things. We’re trying to work with them on those things to see if we can fill the gap and provide what they need in order to keep their pets and keep them happy and healthy, as well.”

Meaningful honor

A grateful McCloud Smith considers her Women of Industry selection to be a team honor. “Any way that we can engage more people in whatever area they are most interested in, and build on our partnerships and things that we are able to do with people and animals, that’s what means the world to me.”

Read the rest of our 2017 Women of Industry features:

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