Interview with Shelter Manager Nikki Baltas
Baypath, like the field of animal welfare, is constantly evolving. Shelter Manager Nikki Baltas shared her perspective on the current status of our shelter and regional trends with Development Coordinator Katy Kesselman.
Katy: How would you describe the current state of the shelter?
Nikki: The shelter has been very busy. To date this calendar year, we have taken in almost 90 more animals than during the same period in 2022. There has been an increase in local dog surrenders, while the adoption rate has slowed. Luckily, our amazing volunteers and fosters are helping us meet the need – though we could definitely use more fosters right now.
Katy: Are there any trends you’ve been noticing locally?
Nikki: For us and the regional shelters I have spoken with, dog intake is up, including an increase in behavior cases. Since the pandemic, cats are actually doing well! Dogs are the bigger concern these days, whereas years ago, cats needed more help and dogs were in better shape. We are fortunate to have very experienced staff and volunteers who provide training and enrichment to set our dogs up for success.
Katy: What about national trends?
Nikki: Across the country, shelters are seeing an increase in dog intake combined with fewer adoptions. This has unfortunately resulted in an increase in euthanasia rates across the United States for the first time in five years.
Katy: What do you wish all owners and adopters knew?
Nikki: Definitely the importance of positive reinforcement training and enrichment! We are seeing so many adolescent dogs with behavior issues that could’ve been avoided with proper training and enrichment at an earlier age. Training methods matter – while owners mean well, using punishment-based methods can lead to worsening behaviors.