It has been suggested that one of the reasons the Commissioners will not take action to revoke the Care Corp contract is that they have no idea what they really need in a good shelter management team. So I thought I would offer a couple of sample job descriptions to point them in the right direction.
The successful candidate for the position of shelter manager should have at least two years’ experience running a large open intake shelter (500 animals or more). The candidate must be able to demonstrate familiarity with Texas animal welfare laws, as well as with the best practices of both the mainstream animal shelter industry and the No Kill movement. The candidate should have at least two years’ experience managing a staff of at least 20 people. The successful applicant’s resume will include annual professional development, which should include a wide range of the following: training on shelter management, Human Resources, public relations, marketing, conflict resolution, vaccination protocols and laws, euthanasia certification, No Kill, and other professional seminars. Preference should be given to candidates with a degree in business management or specific coursework in shelter management. Excellent people skills are essential. The candidate must demonstrate a strong commitment to promoting adoption, working with rescue, and interacting with volunteers.
The volunteer coordinator candidate should have significant experience recruiting and working with a diverse population of volunteers. The coordinator will be responsible for developing and running a strong program which will include training and education of volunteers. The coordinator will report directly to the shelter manager. This position is responsible for developing a list of approved volunteer activities (subject to frequent change and updating as new ideas and projects present themselves), working with the volunteers to promote active participation in said activities, and developing procedures to ensure volunteer safety without unnecessarily restricting their activities. Heavy emphasis will be placed on recruitment of foster families for animals, as well as on volunteers to run offsite adoption events. The coordinator will make every effort to make the volunteer population feel appreciated and valued, with an eye toward volunteer retention and development of a positive working environment.
The head veterinarian position requires a candidate who has at least five years’ experience working in a high capacity shelter. This candidate must have a Texas veterinary license in good standing and at least two years’ experience supervising a team of other veterinarians and technicians. The ideal candidate will have excellent people skills and managerial skills, as well as a strong track record in emergency medicine and surgery. Strong diagnostic skills are a must. This candidate will also pursue regular continuing education to stay current with new techniques and pharmaceutical developments. Preference will be given to candidates who have demonstrated a strong commitment to diagnosing, treating, and saving every animal that can reasonably be saved. The head veterinarian will be expected to participate actively in treatment and surgery, as well as to supervise other veterinarians on staff. The head veterinarian is expected to model concern for the well-being of every animal in his or her care, as well as to lead a veterinary team (including technicians) that is consistently focused on the care and comfort of the animals while still providing excellent customer service.
These job descriptions are just samples of what we should expect from good candidates for these positions in our shelter. In a large high-capacity shelter, combining the position of head vet with the shelter manager job is positively irresponsible, as it leads to one person trying to do two extremely full time jobs, with the obvious result that neither will be done well. Likewise, the shelter manager should not function as the volunteer coordinator; the shelter manager has a very high stress position that requires supervising a large staff, dealing with multiple crises throughout any given day, and dealing with the public, often in less than desirable circumstances. The volunteer community needs a separate point person whom they can rely on to meet their needs and organize their efforts, and the shelter manager needs a reliable coordinator to whom those responsibilities can be delegated.
Please note that all three descriptions place major emphasis on people skills. While all three require different levels of interaction with the public, the volunteers, and the staff, what they have in common is daily contact with people in a fast-paced, stressful environment. Animal welfare people are often much better with animals than with people, but a well-run shelter cannot afford for these three positions to be filled by employees who are not socially adept and good at working with both people and animals.
We the public (aka the taxpayers) can accept nothing less from our shelters or the people running them.