The agility platform we built at Metro Nashville
Rescue U just got back from the Nashville, TN, area, where we worked with Mars Petcare's volunteer program to help employees improve the living conditions for animals in five local animal shelters.
In the Mars Volunteer Program, employees are given time off to perform community service. Mars (which makes Pedigree brand pet food) has done animal projects in the past, but wanted to take them to a whole new level, and brought us in this year to design and run the program's animal shelter activities. The five shelters we would help: Williamson County Animal Control & Adoption Center, Maury County Animal Services Facility, Sumner County Sheriff's Office Animal Control Div., Humane Society of Sumner County and Metro Nashville Animal Control Services.
We worked with each shelter to determine what its greatest needs were, and then designed the projects to be completed in a single day. While that may sound easy, most shelter staffers are so busy handling the day-to-day upkeep of their animals, they don’t even realize what their greatest problem areas are. They may realize that their cats suffer from upper respiratory issues, but not understand the connection between physical and mental health. Or they might know the dogs are stressed and slightly kennel crazy even though they spend time outdoors, but they don’t realize that most of that outdoor time isn’t productive exercise time since the dogs are hunkered down in the one corner of their play yard that provides afternoon shade.
Though these projects were completed in a single week, running Rescue U projects is like running a cooking show. Isn’t it always cool how the onions and peppers are already cut up and put in cute glass dishes? Well that's what Rescue U does. We prep the projects so the volunteers can show up on a Monday morning ready to pour concrete into the graded, graveled and formed concrete pad that was awaiting them. No magic here — just us, working all day Saturday and Sunday getting it ready. The easier we can make it seem for the volunteers, the more fun they will have and the more likely they will be to want to do it again!
The projects the Mars volunteers completed included creating a cat stimulation garden to enrich the lives of the cats in one shelter; putting up shade screens to protect dogs from the blazing Nashville sun; constructing a storage building for food; installing exercise pens; painting; adding shelving; installing wall fans; replacing some doors and repairing others; and adding agility equipment, benches and landscaping to make the shelters more appealing to potential adopters. We had a blast on this project!