Soaking Up Pawsitivity at Bakersfield SPCA
by Rachel Loehner
If you ask anyone at Bakersfield SPCA in California, one thing is for sure: both the staff and volunteers are excited to be participating in the Cat Pawsitive Pro 2018 Spring Semester. The shelter will work with CPP Trainer-Mentor Samantha Bell DiGenova to learn how to use positive reinforcement clicker training for the cats in their care. Ultimately, the goal is for Cat Pawsitive Pro to help shelter cats get adopted more quickly.
Shelter Manager Kristin McCormick says, “Cats that are not well socialized and need behavioral training on average can stay at the shelter six months or longer, while our more socialized cats will be adopted much faster. With Cat Pawsitive Pro, our staff and volunteers will better know how to correct behavior issues and how to redirect those bad behaviors into pawsitive ones.”
One such cat that Julie Johnson, Executive Director of Bakersfield SPCA, would like to see flourish in the program is Casanova. The four-year-old, beautiful tuxedo cat was originally adopted from the shelter in July 2013. But sadly, when his owner passed away in January 2017, Casanova found himself back at the shelter.
Johnson says, “Casanova is anti-social and very reluctant to interact with staff or volunteers. We really want to bring this boy out of his shell and show him that life and love can be good! He is a great candidate for Cat Pawsitive Pro.”
Team Leader Linda Flanders echoes Johnson’s sentiments and says, “With the program, our cats will be more content and friendly, reaching out for interaction with strangers. People want to adopt cats that are well-behaved and want to hold and interact with them.”
On average, Bakersfield SPCA takes in two cats each day. They currently adopt out approximately one cat per day. And with six team members participating in Cat Pawsitive Pro, they hope to see adoptions increase.
Not only does the shelter expect to see benefits for the cats, but they also anticipate the adopters to benefit as well. Team Leader Tiffany Phillips says, “By being able to train the cats that have behavioral problems, and to train them to do tricks, it will have a pawsitive reward for our adopters.”
McCormick agrees, saying, “We feel that the enrichment and training will not only be fantastic for the cats in our care but fun and educational for the public while increasing adoptions. We look forward to learning enrichment techniques to help our cats have a better quality of life and decrease length of stay at the shelter.”
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