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Asssume the Best

            We unveiled our new core values in a news article last month and also featured them on our blog.  To remind everyone of our core values, they are: Smile-Say Yes; See it, fix it, do it, own it; Speak; Be Generous; Play; Glitter; Have Goals and Smash Them; Be Authentic/Transparent; Be Worthy of High Esteem; Assume the Best.  To learn more about what each core value means, go on our website under “mission and vision” or our previous blog post.
            Today I want to discuss the core value of Assume the Best.   This is a concept that is sometimes difficult for us, as in the shelter environment we see so many horrible cases of animal neglect and mistreatment.  We don’t share those stories too often publicly because we want to focus on the more prevalent positive situations that we see every day. However, the difficult situations do happen more frequently than we want to admit, and that means that sometimes it is challenging to approach situations from a place of assuming the best. We made this a core value because we want to improve on this - it is important.  As an organization, we all need to keep in mind that most people are good and try to not jump to conclusions.  Just because someone says it doesn’t make it true. We must be diligent and act to find out what is real or true before we make the leap to conclusions.
       I think we all can admit that it is hard not to draw from personal experience and jump to conclusions. We all do it!  The other day I was buzzed by the front desk because a gentleman asked to speak to the Director.   My father was a principal, and I always joked that he would summon me in his principal voice and I immediately felt that I had done something wrong.  In this case I went to the front desk and the gentleman asked if we could speak privately in a principal style voice and I immediately assumed the worst.  Come to find out he asked to speak to me privately because he and his wife wanted to join our Legacy Society by leaving us in their wills and he needed some advice on how to do that.  What a reminder to myself to be more positive!
         I feel we actually do a great job assuming the best of adopters. We work every day to give people the benefit of the doubt and make decisions based around the idea that most people are good -  they are coming to adopt a pet because they want to help!  We have conversations, we form relationships, we ask questions, and we don’t hold judgement. 
      Sometimes we need to be reminded to assume the best of a bad situation.  Sweetie was a great dog who was very nice but had a horrible skin condition.  She had large missing patches of hair and was red and itchy.  She looked so terrible we were afraid no one could look past her appearance to see how great she was.  A caring person stepped up and came in one day specifically to help Sweetie – to adopt her, take care of the skin condition, and give the dog a life filled with happiness.   Because of this adopter, Sweetie is living a happy life and healing very well with a great adopter who fell in love with the dog - not the appearance. We forgot for a moment how generous and caring the people of our community are to our neediest pets, and this experience served as a strong reminder to assume the best – not just to assume the best of people, but to assume the best for our pets finding happiness!
One of our amazing foster families!
     The foster program five years ago was non-existent. In fact, we wouldn’t adopt to some of the families we foster with now because we wouldn’t place kittens or puppies in homes with young kids.  The staff found it difficult to trust people, and they weren’t quite sure how to manage the process.  Today, we couldn’t survive without our fosters!  We don’t do home visits because we know that most people are good, we have trust in them, and we know we need their help to be able to do this great work.   This mentality brought about a 35% reduction in kitten deaths last year!   
    Just as we work every day to assume the best and make decisions on fact, not fear, and to find out what is real, I ask that people do the same when looking at organizations working hard to help the community.   I have learned that we can’t always live up to everyone’s expectations.  As an organization, we have to continue to do the work we feel is important in the manner that we feel is right, in order to help as many pets and people as possible.  We will upset some people along the way, and they will put their spin on the facts.  It is their truth but it doesn’t mean it is the only truth and there is usually another side to the situation. 
     There is a lot of change going on here, and with change mistakes are inevitable.  Please assume the best, ask questions if something doesn’t seem right, and we will keep trying to do the same!  And if you use your principle’s voice I will try not to assume I am getting detention.


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