To the Board Members and Leadership of the Philadelphia Animal Care and Control Team,
We are writing on behalf of Dr. Shana Gilbert- Gregory, whose position we understand is being terminated prior to the end date of her contract. As dedicated volunteers, we are extremely disappointed to learn of this news, as Dr. Gilbert- Gregory has added much to the ACCT experience not only for us as volunteers, but, we strongly believe to the animals in the care of the facility, as well.
Since Dr. Gilbert- Gregory’s placement, numerous enrichment programs have been instated that have enhanced the stay for the animals in ACCT’s care. These programs have been instrumental in improving the quality of life for the animals and have provided valuable learning experiences for volunteers, foster parents and adopters. These things all contribute to an increased foster and adoption rate, as Dr. Gilbert- Gregory has gone above and beyond for many animals and her knowledge and experience are indispensable towards achieving what we believe is ACCT's overall goals: better care for the animals and higher retention rates for animals placed in foster care or adopted.
Among the highly successful programs that Dr. Gilbert- Gregory has initiated are:
-Paired Housing- an enrichment program designed to reduce kennel stress that has been highly successful in helping keep dogs socialized and more relaxed in the shelter environment
-Foodies Program- an enrichment program designed to give dogs and cats something to do while in their kennels and provide mental and physical stimulation
-Behavior Workshops- programs designed to help volunteers understand what they are looking at with animals. The “Get your ACCT Together” workshops are a valuable resource for volunteers, both new and old who want to learn more about dog behavior, and learn from someone who has made this their life’s work. Understanding body language and how to handle dogs is crucial, not only because it helps volunteers, but because it allows volunteers to relay the appropriate information to adopters. These workshops, in addition, to Dr. Gilbert- Gregory’s interest and desire to help volunteers one on one have been crucial in helping improve volunteer programs and volunteer interactions with the animals
-Structured Playgroups- Dr. Gilbert- Gregory’s knowledge and experience has been crucial to helping staff and volunteers understand what they are looking at with dogs. These structured playgroups have been highly beneficial for the dogs, as Dr. Gilbert- Gregory knows what dogs are appropriate together and makes a considered effort to make these groups safe and free of punishment for the dogs. In Dr. Gilbert- Gregory’s playgroups, dogs are set up to succeed.
Additionally, Dr. Gilbert- Gregory has gone far above and beyond with animals who have been adopted or placed in foster care. In at least 2 cases, Dr. Gilbert- Gregory brought animals into her own home to work with them when their foster or adopter was not equipped to work with them on their own. She has helped countless foster parents through behavioral or health issues and has personally euthanized dogs in their foster home when their behavior warranted it. She has made appointments with foster parents who are invested in making sure they adopt out behaviorally sound dogs to coach them through issues they may be having. In the shelter, Dr. Gilbert- Gregory continually monitors the behavior of the dogs and assesses what changes may need to be made and willingly passes that information along to the volunteers who are working with the dogs. Dr. Gilbert- Gregory has taken the time to get to know the dogs and to truly understand their behavioral and health needs. For a city intake shelter, all of this should not be seen as a value-added service, but as one imperative to the on-going success of the organization and it’s reputation amongst taxpayers and potential adopters.
Other organizations, such as Hand2Paw have become involved with ACCT because they trust that Dr. Gilbert- Gregory can create a safe environment for their own volunteer and community efforts. Additionally, much of what Dr. Gilbert- Gilbert has created will become worthless without someone who has knowledge of animal behavior maintaining and managing them. Our big fear is that what Dr. Gilbert- Gregory has been able to accomplish will go to waste and that, ultimately, it is the animals who will pay the price for it.
Please be aware that as volunteers, our interest is in the animals. We show up to support the ones who can’t support themselves. We believe that Dr. Gilbert- Gregory’s interest in the physical and mental well-being of the animals is indispensable and that ACCT losing her does a great disservice not only to the animals, the volunteers, foster parents and adopters, the community, but, also to the organization.
We hope that the Board and leadership at ACCT will reconsider this decision and unite to share our support of the services provided by Dr. Gilbert- Gregory.