BEMIDJI BONDS: Beltrami Humane Society’s Mod Squad help shelter dogs find a forever home
For the volunteers of the Mod Squad, the goal is simple: Make some dogs a little more adoptable. It's a common goal, one which brings them together to help these animals find a forever home. Since June 2014, volunteers have put in time to help tr...
For the volunteers of the Mod Squad, the goal is simple: Make some dogs a little more adoptable.
It’s a common goal, one which brings them together to help these animals find a forever home.
Since June 2014, volunteers have put in time to help train dogs that are in need of behavior intervention.
Two of the Mod Squad volunteers, Angela Morris and Teri Collyard, spoke with the Pioneer about their time helping the animals.
There are five members of the Mod Squad, and they spend about five hours a week helping dogs become more comfortable around humans, lowering their stress levels and hopefully to match them with the right owners.
Collyard has been with the Mod Squad since its inception, and has long been a volunteer for the Beltrami Humane Society. Morris joined because she “was interested for a while with helping out.”
“I have been thinking about doing something in our community for a while, and I don’t have children, so dogs are sort of my soft spot. I felt I could give the most to the animals that are here,” Morris said. “So when I read about their program on their website, and talked to the people that are involved with the program, it made me get really excited to help out.”
Morris added Collyard was “kind enough to be my mentor - she’s the one who taught me everything I know.”
It was the loss of a favorite dog that got Collyard interested in helping out and working with animals at the shelter.
“I decided, in his honor, that I would start coming in and volunteering,” Collyard said, who started at the Beltrami Humane Society about eight years ago. “And since then I’ve been on the Board of Directors, I sit on the animal welfare committee … there’s just been a lot of different things I’ve done.”
For the Mod Squad, the main focus of the program is to reduce the animal’s stress through different types of techniques, they said. And they are also training animals on some basic manners, commands such as “sit” and “stay” that are mental activities for them. And that also helps to reduce their stress.
The changes in behavior can come about swiftly.
“It’s unbelievable the changes you can see in the animals, sometimes even in less than a week,” Morris said.
They both said they have had great learning experiences working with the dogs in their journey in finding a permanent home.
“The best thing I’ve taken was all the learning all the skills that Teri has taught me,” Morris said. “and implementing them with my own pets. To me that was a huge breakthrough, and I already had a nice dog which is getting even better.”
A dog she had worked with a couple of times, a family had come in to talk about the animal and what the shelter knew about it. The dog was adopted that same day.
“It was one of the best things to happen,” Morris said. “It was beautiful. It’s one of the coolest things in the world.”
For Collyard, the best experience was when a dog come in that had some aggression issues. This was a dog the committee would usually have to have a conversation about in regard if it was an adoptable dog and how they would handle the situation.
“We didn’t have to have that conversation, we enrolled him into the Mod Squad,” Collyard said. “He was very stressed out and agitated, and one day I was working with him and he literally flopped down, let out this huge sigh and … I swear he was finally able to just lay down and just relax. It was like we gave that to him. After all the stress he had in his brain he was able to just relax.”
To see the dog he became after was “amazing,” Collyard said. She has seen him since he was adopted and “he looks like a totally different dog.”
For more information on the Mod Squad program, visit http://www.beltramihumane.com/donate/volunteer/mod-squad/