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Cats Cradle Shelter, Inc.: Grant Report

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

We purchased a good-quality Canon DSLR camera and accessories to keep at the shelter for various volunteers to use rather than having to rely on one photographer bringing his good camera in on his schedule and get pictures for social media and Petfinder. We also wanted to be able to upload more videos to market our cats.

We have been able to get a greater variety of photos of cats and have been able to get photos sooner by not relying on the "official" photographer's schedule and the mood of the cats on that day. We've also been able to get pictures up on social media sooner by not having to rely on just one photographer. We have trained three volunteers to use the new camera and we have another volunteer lined up to learn. One of the three that have already been trained has resurrected our defunct Instagram page and has been posting videos there and is working to improve our Instagram audience.

How many pets did this grant help?

Having the camera available 24-7 for still photos and video helps all of the cats who live at the shelter (average of 50) and the kittens who live in foster homes and only visit for open houses (about 30 this time of year) -- so close to 100 cats in the months since we received the camera.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

All of us at Cats Cradle want to thank you for our camera grant. It’s so nice to be able to grab a camera, take a photo, and upload it any time we are at the shelter, rather than having to rely on people to take poor-quality cell-phone photos or wait for someone with a “good” camera to have time to come in. Our best stories are these three: In November, we were able to reunite two cats with their families within a week of their intake date because we had the cats’ photos on social media, including Petfinder, within a week of intake, and either the owner or a friend saw the cat posted. Emmanuel (first photo) was at the city pound on 11/2/16, arrived at Cats Cradle on 11/8, we posted his photo on 11/11 (thanks to having a camera in-house) and his family called us two days later. He went home with his overjoyed family on 11/15.

Ajax (second photo) was at the city pound on 11/17, arrived at Cats Cradle on 11/23, we posted his picture on 11/25 and he was reunited with his very happy daddy on 11/29.

In early December, we were also able to reunite Purr-cy (third photo) with his family SEVEN MONTHS after he went missing at a Fargo hotel (his family lives about four hours away in Minot, ND). We got Purr-cy’s photo posted the same day he arrived at Cats Cradle (11/25), and a volunteer with a lost-and-found-pets Facebook page saw the picture the next day and thought she recognized his face and unusual lip spot from an old post. She was able to visit the shelter and send video and more photos to his (possible) family and within days, we were pretty sure we had a match between our Purr-cy and a missing cat named Fogg.

A week after Purr-cy came out of the pound, one of our volunteers drove him to a meeting point halfway to his home. Purr-cy threw himself on his mom and clung to her like a little monkey. He wouldn’t let go of her, even when it was time for them to pack up and start for home. His family was still hopeful and had been searching for him, but with no molars or premolars, a heart condition requiring medication, and the sub-zero North Dakota winter weather settling in, it was a miracle he survived as long as he did. We suspect someone had him indoors during the months he was missing, as his body score and coat condition were good when he came to us. We are so grateful that we could reunite him with his family quickly thanks to an eagle-eyed social-media user and a good camera taking photos that showed his distinctive face!

FYI, I am a student in the Veterinary Technology program at North Dakota State University, where we house and provide medical services for shelter dogs and cats in 28-day increments. The students provide all the care and enrichment for the animals while they are at the university. I have been sharing information I learned at the Minneapolis Adoption Options event to encourage students to spend time training the dogs to sit, stay, and lie down during their enrichment times (rather than just taking them for walks or letting them run in our little dog park) because I learned at the AO that a dog who will sit or lie down next to a potential adopter is 14 times more likely to get adopted than a dog who bounces around and appears “undisciplined.” We don’t have any follow-up info on how quickly dogs are getting adopted, but we are sure trying to give them their best shot to make a good impression!

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