Personalized Approach To Animal Care
Baypath’s goal is to understand each animal’s situation and needs and to develop a targeted plan that will help the animal thrive. For example, some dogs may crave a calm environment while others may have lots of energy and need plenty of fun activities to keep them engaged. Many cats and dogs arrive at the shelter in a high state of stress. Each animal is given a safe space, and – together with an animal behaviorist and training partners – we set up customized strategies for exercise, training, and socialization for the staff and volunteers to follow to help each animal stay happy and healthy. This may include: teaching agility skills to give an anxious dog something fun to work on; providing positive reinforcement to a frightened dog or cat; investing in classes to help a dog become a better companion; or gently interacting with a shy cat.
Health & Wellness
We have countless procedures in place to assess the health and wellness of the animals each day. And as Baypath continues to evolve to meet the needs of the community, partnerships have been developed within the veterinary community that bolster care and reduce medical costs. Veterinary partners include Tufts Lerner Clinic; Natick Animal Hospital; Ashland Animal Hospital; Second Chance Animal Services; VCA Westborough; Dave Knapp, DVM, DACVS; and Lesli Kibler, DVM. We rely on them not only for critical medical procedures, but also for diagnostics, dietary considerations, rehabilitation, and more. These close partnerships ensure that the whole health of each and every animal is addressed.
In addition to the in-shelter volunteers, Baypath’s mission is supported by a highly committed group of foster families who provide loving care in their homes for dogs, cats, and kittens in need of extra medical or behavioral help. They both enable more animals in need to be rescued and provide special care that often isn’t possible in a shelter setting.
For example, dogs and cats who are shy or under-socialized can benefit from living in a temporary foster home where they can have the space to unwind and learn to trust people, or to develop new skills that will help them become a wonderful pet companion. Puppies and kittens also benefit from increased socialization and avoid possible increased exposure to disease.
The extended Baypath team includes several groups of highly specialized volunteers within our robust Volunteer Program who add unique skills needed to ensure the best possible care for the animals and to prepare them for a successful home adoption.
For instance, The Dog Behavior Team (DBT) was initiated in 2015 from a desire to develop a volunteer group interested in learning more about animal behavior and training to benefit the shelter dogs. The DBT has grown to become a substantial force of volunteers who work with the dogs that need something extra (ex: quiet time, training, a break from the shelter, etc).
And The Kitty’s Gone Friendly volunteers work closely with cats in need of extra attention. Under the guidance of staff, these volunteers follow individual plans to help each cat. They may play games, or simply engage a cat in calming ways such as quietly reading to them or offering them special treats to teach trust. This integral work helps cats relax, and sets them up for success in their future home.
Training & Behavior
At Baypath, we pay special attention to the behavioral needs of the animals in our care – reinforcing desired behaviors, but also identifying concerning behaviors and quickly devising plans to set the animal up for success. We strongly advocate for positive reinforcement training methods, which essentially means using rewards like praise and treats to reinforce desirable behaviors. This is a scientifically proven, humane approach to helping animals learn good behaviors. These methods result in happier, more confident, and better behaved animals.
Staff & Volunteer Development
The team of staff and volunteers is deeply committed to learning about animal welfare. They are not content with the status quo; they are keenly interested in staying up to date on the latest animal sheltering practices and continually find new ways to improve the health and well-being of the animals. Staff and volunteers are offered hands-on training sessions on topics such as animal body language, dog playgroups, and clicker training.
Commitment to Whole Animal Care
The organization is grounded in enduring principles of humane care and community service.
Personalized Approach To Adoption
The goal is to help each adopter and new pet have a happy life together. Each shelter staff member is a hands-on animal care provider and is available to assist adopters throughout the process. Although an adoption application is used as part of the process, the most important part of the adoption process is having a conversation to hear about an adopter’s lifestyle, expectations, questions, and concerns. This helps immensely with ensuring the best match for the adopter and dog or cat. We also follow up with every adopter post-adoption to see how things are going and if we can help in any way. As needed, we will tap our behavior and medical partners to help ensure success for the families and animals alike.
We recognize that giving up a pet is an incredibly difficult thing for families. Our knowledgeable staff takes great care to first work with people in those situations to determine if there are resources out there to keep the animal in the home, be it financial assistance, behavioral consultations and more. However, we also realize that sometimes that isn’t an option and thus we have a robust program designed to assess the history and needs of the animal to determine if we can set them up for success within our program.
Commitment to Engaging and Supporting our Community
We are fortunate to partner with a myriad of professionals in their respective fields, which allows us to both help the animals in our care, as well as help others out in the community. This includes things like working with local rescues to take in animals or placing animals held as part of Law Enforcement cases in our Foster Program. This vast network ensures a comprehensive and efficient way to get as many animals in our community what they need, where they need it, when they need it.
Connecting with and serving our wonderful community takes many forms. We are fortunate to have so many looking to engage with the organization with onsite volunteerism, donation drives in the workplace or in school, inviting Baypath to various civic events, and more and our dedicated Outreach Team so enjoys participating in/facilitating these initiatives.
We also have animal-lovers who reach out about their own pets, concerns for animals in their neighborhood, animal control questions, etc. Our Outreach Coordinator takes great care to match people up with the appropriate resources.
In 2019, we launched another exciting initiative – Baypath Educates – largely geared at engaging our animal-loving youth, but also any other group or civic organizations, endeavoring to learn more about animal care and animal welfare. Our passionate and knowledgeable Community Liaison, Michelle Kreell, serves as an ambassador for the organization in this regard. Michelle hosts shelter tours for community groups, leads talks about responsible pet ownership and fostering, and helps local youth with their community projects.
Project Just Because Partnership
In 2018, we began a partnership with our local food pantry, Project Just Because. For years, we have partnered with individuals and groups in our community getting extra food and supplies to people in need. And we were just as excited to partner with the mighty organization that is Project Just Because. They serve an incredible number of people in a variety of ways and absolutely felt the need for more pet-related supplies. Most recently, we received a grant from our friends at Middlesex Savings Bank to ensure we can continue to meet the needs of this critical collaboration.
Pilot Surgical Program
In 2018, we forged a critical partnership with a respected shelter vet and vet tech, as well as with VCA, part of Mars Corp., who let us use their facilities as an “in-house” way to provide surgical services to the animals under Baypath’s care. This partnership has helped reduce costs and increase efficiency, and has also put us in a better position to one day truly have our own in-house surgical capabilities.
Humane Lecture Series
In 2017, with the support of Hill’s Science Diet and Middlesex Bank, we launched our Humane Lecture Series. This initiative was launched in recognition of the desire of our constituency within Baypath, as well as that of the larger community, for more opportunities to learn more about animal care and animal welfare. As a small shelter, we did not have onsite space, so we collaborated with our friends at The Hopkinton Center for the Arts, local libraries, and vet hospitals to host these events. The corporate support enabled us to bring in renowned talent and truly engage our animal-loving community in great discussions.