The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

Mahatma Gandhi

Lollypop Farm: The Link Between Animal Abuse and Human Violence

Lisa made two presentations at Lollypop Farm’s conference in Rochester, NY on October 12, 2018. Her first presentation “Animal Abuse and the Community: How Professionals Can Work Together” focused on what professionals from a range of disciplines need to know about the relationship between animal maltreatment and other antisocial behavior. In her second presentation “Intervention Programs for Animal Crimes Offenders” she discussed the BARK program that she developed at the Animals and Society Institute. The 16-week program for misdemeanor animal maltreatment offenders is currently being piloted in Syracuse, NY and will launch in Rochester, NY in 2019.

What do Yogi Berra and your program’s success have in common?

As Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else.”

So what does that have to do with your program?

Look at it this way. If you were planning a road trip, what’s the first question you would need to answer? You would need to know where you wanted to go, right? Once you know where you want to go, you need to figure out how to get there. You need a road map. Think of a logic model as the road map for your program, a tool that helps ensure you don’t, in Yogi’s words, “wind up somewhere else.”

The logic model addresses three key questions:

  • Where are you going?
  • How will you get there?
  • How will you know when you’ve arrived?

It graphically displays connections between your program resources, activities, outputs and outcomes. Think of it as a picture of what you plan to do and what you will achieve.

 

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The logic model can and should be used in all phases of a program’s life cycle, from planning to implementation to evaluation. During the planning phase, the logic model can be used to strengthen the program by identifying gaps in logic and selecting activities that are clearly tied to desired outcomes. For example, if your program activities are focused on developing children’s reading skills, don’t expect their math scores to improve. During implementation, the logic model can be used as a management tool to monitor program activities. A program that isn’t being implemented as you intended is unlikely to produce the results you expect. Finally, the logic model helps you decide what data you need to collect in order to track progress and show results.

Successful programs have logic models and know how to use them. In fact, many foundations and public sector funders now require program logic models in grant proposals. Having good intentions to change the world is great. Pairing those good intentions with a road map to achieve results is better.

Radio Pet Lady Network

Lisa was a guest on DOG TALK® and discussed senior dogs and The Grey Muzzle Organization’s grant program designed specifically to help them. This Gracie® Award winning show, produced and hosted by pet wellness advocate Tracie Hotchner, has been broadcasting for over 9 years with 500+ shows from the NPR station Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons, where it is heard from the East End across all of Long Island, into Southern Connecticut and Westchester, as well as on the local NPR station Robinhood Radio in the Berkshires. DOG TALK® features global authors and experts discussing far-ranging topics involving dogs and cats.

11 Questions Winning Grant Writers Know How to Answer

Every day I am approached by nonprofits asking how they can get a grant to fund the great work they’re doing. Some have successful grant-writing records, and others are new to the foundation world. No matter the level of experience, the first thing I tell everyone who asks how to write a successful grant proposal is: You need to convince the funder why they should care. Once you’ve done that, you need to persuade them that your organization can deliver what you promise (or in evaluator lingo, show measurable results).

I just finished up work with my first Pay it Forward organization, World Animal Net (WAN), and our focus was grant writing. Part of the reason I chose WAN was that their mission is really consistent with that of Pay it Forward. They aim to “avoid duplication and competition, promote innovative programs, and stimulate cooperation and coalition building.” In short, they believe that cooperation is a more powerful force for good than competition. They are working to help animals around the world by sharing knowledge and expertise, and building communication networks and partnerships.

One of the things that came up early in my work with WAN is the importance of not thinking about grants in a vacuum. A successful grant proposal needs to fit logically in the context of the bigger-picture plans for your organization. Who wants to pay for a project that will come to a grinding halt once the money runs out? This question spurred internal discussions at WAN that resulted in updates to their strategic plan and a more informed decision-making process about which projects for which to pursue grant funding. As a result of our conversations, the WAN staff asked me to provide a cheat sheet of questions that they could refer to as they thought about whether or not to apply for grants in the future. In the spirit of Pay it Forward, I thought it might also be helpful to others.

So before you start writing your next grant proposal, make sure you can answer these questions:
1. What problem or issue will your proposed project solve or address?
2. Why is it important to address this issue?
3. What will be different as a result?
4. How will you measure or document your results?
5. How does what you are proposing fit into your organization’s strategic plan?
6. Why is it important in the context of that plan?
7. What is your overall funding strategy?
8. How do grants in general and this grant in particular fit into that funding strategy?
9. How will the work accomplished under the auspices of the grant be sustained when the grant period ends?
10. Why should funders care about this issue?
11. How do the issue and your approach to addressing it match the funders’ priorities or areas of focus?

All Creatures Magazine

The Grey Muzzle Organization and Lisa’s work on behalf of senior dogs was featured in the winter edition of All Creatures magazine.

Got Outcomes?

Let’s face it. A lot of people are afraid of program evaluation. There are countless explanations we use to rationalize not evaluating our programs. How often have you heard (or said):

  • “I’m not an evaluator.”
  • “Evaluation is expensive. We don’t have those kinds of resources.”
  •  “Participants love the program, so it must be working.”
  •  “Our program is complicated; it’s impossible to measure outcomes.”

To make matters worse, lack of staff expertise in evaluation is sometimes accompanied by fear that perhaps the program won’t show the results we expect. Then what?

I understand the reluctance and the fear.

Yet as concepts like results-based accountability become the norm and funders increasingly require evaluation plans in grant proposals, it’s important to step back and consider what can be gained from program evaluation. Most importantly, evaluation provides critical information about whether or not your program is achieving desired results.

We all know resources are limited. Isn’t it better to know sooner rather than later if those resources are being used effectively? And for those whose work focuses on our most vulnerable populations, there is even greater urgency to ensure that programs produce positive outcomes.

So the next time you’re tempted to fall back on all the reasons you can’t evaluate your program, think about all you have to gain if you do. Remind yourself that evaluating your program and tracking your outcomes will pay off by helping you to:

  • Clarify program objectives. What are you trying to accomplish? How will you define success?
  • Solidify support and raise money. People–including funders–want to support successful efforts. Demonstrating positive outcomes is an invaluable fund-raising tool.
  • Monitor your program. Are you really doing what you said you would do?
  • Make informed decisions about program changes. Do you need to alter the program or make mid-course corrections? Better to make those changes before the opportunity to get back on track is lost.
  • Identify unintended program effects. Are there “side effects” that need to be addressed?
  • Assess overall effectiveness. Did the program work as intended? Are program recipients better off? If so, how?
  • Assess program cost versus benefit(s). Do the program outcomes justify the investment?
  • Do even more good. If you can show your program works, you have the opportunity to increase your reach and broaden your impact.

So, got outcomes?

Watch the VALOR Video

We are just wrapping up evaluation of Safe Humane Chicago’s second round of VALOR (Veterans Advancing the Lives of Rescues). Learn more about the impact this program is having on veterans and shelter dogs.

Guest Post: Beyond Intuition

Guest blogger Elisa Kosarin of Twenty Hats shares her insight on successful strategies for interviewing prospective volunteers.

When you interview volunteers, trusting your gut leads to mixed results

True or False?

Our gut feelings about a volunteer are the best predictor of volunteer success.

Since I’m asking the question – and it’s a leading question – you’ve probably guessed the correct answer: FALSE.

Five years ago I would have answered ‘True’. The program where I have worked, Fairfax CASA, takes volunteer screening seriously. We expect candidates to complete a one hour orientation and two interviews before being considered for training, and then the staff discusses each candidate before making the weighty decision to accept or reject someone.

About those “gut feelings”

Despite all this rigor, our decisions often came down to our “gut feelings” about a candidate – even though our gut feelings were not paying off. We were having a tough time meeting our recruitment goals because so many trainees either dropped their cases or never even took one. This was a huge problem because our judges wanThumbs Up Downt to see a volunteer on every single case that enters the court.

The pressure to bring in qualified volunteers had a silver lining, because it forced us to take a good hard look at our recruitment and screening methods. And we were fortunate to receive help from a human resources specialist who taught us how to conduct behavior-based interviews.

A Better Way

The concept behind behavior-based interviewing is pretty simple: past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. You ask questions that require your applicants to give examples of the competencies you seek. If you need a volunteer who is reliable, you ask your prospect to describe situations where others could count on him to deliver. If a position requires good interpersonal skills, ask your candidate about a time she handled a disagreement with someone.

Questions usually begin one of two ways: “Tell me about a time when…” or “Give me an example of…” Then you assess how closely the candidate is able to answer the question. The response, or lack of an adequate response, speaks volumes about that person’s ability to handle a similar situation with confidence.

Shrinking the Gray Area

Fairfax CASA experienced some striking results from the shift to behavior-based interviewing. We shifted from a typical year with over a dozen non-engaged trainees to an average of two volunteers per year not taking a case. And the number of applicants falling into the “gray area”, when we are on the fence about someone, has become much smaller.

There are other factors that play into volunteer screening, like getting clear on the competencies you seek and spelling out expectations, but if I had to choose just one factor, I would pick interviewing. It’s one area where volunteer engagement still relies on the human resources best practices for excellence.

About Twenty Hats

Headshot - circleTwenty Hats is led by Elisa Kosarin, CVA, a nonprofit professional with 15+ years experience in marketing, development, and volunteer management. She is deeply familiar with the challenges faced by nonprofit staff who wish to improve their skills with little time and few resources.  She founded Twenty Hats to promote trainings that expand the skill base of her colleagues.

 

36th Annual Michigan Statewide Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect

Lisa presented two workshops at the 36th Annual Michigan Statewide Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect: Prevention, Assessment & Treatment held at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Michigan.

On October 23, she presented “Animal Abuse and Children: What All Professionals Need to Know.” This session explored the dynamics of animal abuse and its relevance to the work of professionals in a range of disciplines, including child welfare, mental health, education, social work, law enforcement, and juvenile justice. She discussed the growing body of research on the relationship between animal abuse and other types of antisocial behavior, focusing on animal abuse as an important risk factor in children. State legislation in response to the growing recognition of the link between animal abuse and interpersonal violence was presented. What to do if concerns about animal abuse are identified and ways in which human services and animal welfare professionals can better work together to address childhood animal abuse were discussed.

In a second workshop, Lisa presented, “Animal Abuse and Children: Tools You Can Use.” This session explored why it is important to take childhood animal abuse seriously and its relationship to other risk factors, including maltreatment. Participants learned about animal abuse as an early marker for conduct disorder and research that suggests animal abuse may be related to other adverse childhood experiences. Using case studies and video vignettes, we discussed what professionals should look for and the types of questions that might be asked about animal-related experiences. The session concluded with a discussion of trauma-focused strategies for intervening with children who have engaged in or witnessed animal abuse.

The Pay it Forward winner is…

At Making Good Work we recognize that changing the world often doesn’t pay well, at least not financially. That’s why we created Pay It Forward. Every quarter we select an organization for which we provide a service at no cost.

So what’s the catch, you ask?

All we ask in return is that the organization pay it forward, agreeing to provide a specific service at no cost to another organization in need.

This quarter selecting the Pay it Forward organization was particularly difficult. There are so many organizations in the world doing truly inspiring work. Sometimes it’s hard to choose just one.

Here’s the story…

I recently returned from a trip to Africa during which I spent two weeks in Tanzania. Seeing the annual wildebeest migration in Serengeti National Park was fantastic, but getting to know the people of Tanzania was even more inspiring. Learning about the wildlife and the culture from guides who are passionate about both was a profound experience. Each day I was moved by the differences in our way of life and reminded how much we in the United States take for granted.

One of our guides, Olais, shared his dream of starting his own organization, tentatively called Friends of Nature, and giving back to the community. His focus is on wildlife conservation, cultural engagement and helping to educate his community about the importance—and advantages—of protecting natural resources. I was touched by his intelligence, passion and aspirations.

Another of our guides, Rem, introduced me to Roots in Jungle, a small organization dedicated to giving back to the community by using sustainable tourism to support an orphanage, ensuring that children who have lost their families have a safe place to live and get an education. Shortly after meeting Roots in Jungle’s Director, Jacqueline Mosha, she emailed me and said, “Please stay in touch. We welcome your ideas and will receive them with an open heart. Let’s help the orphans to have a place to call home that’s filled with love, hope and opportunity.”

I am pleased to announce that this quarter we will be working with both Friends of Nature and Roots in Jungle to develop a strategic plan and launch a website. And in true pay-it-forward style, Evan Karatzas, Founder and Director of Proximity Lab, was equally moved by meeting Olais and has agreed to provide pro bono website design services.

My trip to Africa inspired me in a way I didn’t think possible. I’m thankful for the opportunity to join with new friends and colleagues to give back. Together we really can change the world.

Society of Animal Welfare Administrators (SAWA) 2017 Management Conference

Lisa was a featured speaker at the SAWA Management Conference in Long Beach, CA, where she presented “Planning for Success: Using Logic Models as a Road Map.” The session helped animal welfare professionals to work smarter and use evaluation as a tool for continuous improvement. She explained the importance of logic models and how they increase a program’s likelihood of success; discussed the ways in which logic models can support program planning, implementation and evaluation; and helped attendees to develop their own logic models for planned or current programs.

Humane Society of Huron Valley

Lisa presented “Animal Abuse and Interpersonal Violence,” a day-long workshop at the Humane Society of Huron Valley (3100 Cherry Hill Rd, Ann Arbor, MI). Attendees selected the morning session (9:30-11:30 am), focused on the connection between animal abuse, interpersonal violence, and antisocial behavior; and/or the afternoon session (12:30-3:30 pm), concentrating on what those who work with children need to know about exposure to animal abuse. More than 30 professionals attended both morning and afternoon sessions, and it was one of the most diverse groups that ever participated in an HSHV training event. Attendees included child protection workers, domestic violence advocates, criminal justice professionals, health care professionals, mental health clinicians, animal welfare advocates, and animal control officers. At the break we got to enjoy some puppy therapy:

Maryland Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association Conference

Lisa presented “Children & Animal Abuse: What You Need to Know to Effectively Advocate” at the annual Maryland CASA conference in Annapolis, MD. The session focused on children’s relationships with animals as both risk and protective factors. We discussed why it’s important to take childhood animal abuse seriously and its relationship to other risk factors, including abuse and neglect. Key factors to consider when assessing animal abuse and approaches to exploring a child’s relationship with animals were presented. The session concluded with a discussion of trauma-focused strategies for intervening with children who have engaged in or witnessed animal abuse. Case examples were used throughout to illustrate key points. Participants were encouraged to share their experiences and ask questions.

The Pet Buzz

Listen to Lisa’s interview on The Pet Buzz, an animal-related lifestyle radio program airing in NY, FL and a number of other states. She talks about senior dogs and the ways in which The Grey Muzzle Organization is helping to give them second chances on a nationwide scale.

The Washington Post

Lisa is thrilled that her work with The Grey Muzzle Organization on behalf of senior dogs was featured in a story in the Washington Post: “More people are adopting old dogs — really old dogs.” The story was picked up by msn.com and syndicated in newspapers and other media outlets nationwide and in Canada, including Tampa Bay Times, Denver Post, News & Observer in Raleigh, NC, Ft. Worth Star Telegram, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Miami Herald, Wichita Eagle, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, NewsOK.com (The Oklahoman), Bradenton Herald, Independent Tribune, the Huffington Post, Dogster, the Dodo, and SFGate.

National Council on Pet Population and Society of Animal Welfare Administrators (SAWA) Research Symposium

Lisa was invited to participate in the National Council on Pet Population (Council) and the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators (SAWA) Research Symposium entitled “Solid, Stretched or Broken?: the Human-Animal Bond” where she presented “Shelter dogs and veterans: A comparison of two different program models.” The number of animal-assisted programs that pair veterans with shelter dogs is growing. Yet there is great variability in program models and little information on effectiveness. Program goals vary and may include helping veterans to re-enter civilian life, develop job skills, reduce PTSD symptoms, and gain social support. The presentation outlined the findings from evaluations of two different types of programs that pair veterans and shelter dogs: Soldier’s Best Friend (SBF) and VALOR. Differences and similarities in the two program models were discussed, and preliminary research findings from interviews with veterans from both programs were presented. Lessons learned and considerations for implementing similar programs were discussed.

Humane Society Academy

On June 22, 2016, Lisa presented her third webinar in the Animal Abuse and Children Series. During “Intervening with Children who Witnessed or Engaged in Animal Abuse” she described and discussed the range of intervention resources available for children who have witnessed, engaged in, or are at risk of engaging in animal abuse. These include psychological intervention using the AniCare Child approach and psycho-education programs such as the Children and Animals Together (CAT) Assessment and Treatment Program. She also discussed prevention programs for children who are at risk of engaging in animal abuse.

This webinar series is sponsored by the InMaat Foundation and has been approved for 1 CE point of continuing education credit toward the Certified Animal Welfare Administrator credential.

“Intervening with Children who Witnessed or Engaged in Animal Abuse” was recorded and can accessed free of charge.

Humane Society Academy

On May 25, 2016, Lisa presented the second webinar in a three-part series on Children and Animal Abuse. During “Assessing Children’s Relationships with Animals” Lisa focused on assessing children’s relationships (both positive and negative) with animals. She discussed what professionals should look for and the types of questions that might be asked about animal-related experiences. Using case examples, she discussed the importance of individualized assessment and reviewed factors to consider in assessment.

This webinar series was sponsored by the InMaat Foundation and approved for 1 CE point of continuing education credit toward the Certified Animal Welfare Administrator credential.

“Assessing Children’s Relationships with Animals” was recorded and can be accessed free of charge.

Animal Assisted Intervention International Conference

On May 15, 2016, Lisa was in Prague, Czech Republic, conducting two workshops at the Animal Assisted Intervention International Conference. During “Pairing veterans and shelter dogs: A comparison of two different program models” Lisa discussed the fact that the number of animal-assisted programs that pair veterans with shelter dogs is growing. Yet there is great variability in program models and little information on effectiveness. Program goals vary and may include helping veterans to re-enter civilian life, develop job skills, reduce PTSD symptoms, and gain social support. Lisa’s presentation outlined the findings from evaluations of two different types of programs that pair veterans and shelter dogs: Soldier’s Best Friend (SBF) and VALOR. Differences and similarities in the two program models were discussed, and preliminary research findings from interviews with veterans from both programs were presented. Lessons learned and considerations for implementing similar programs were discussed.

During “Got Outcomes?” Lisa emphasized that the success of animal-assisted programs depends on providers’ ability to clearly articulate program elements, implement programs as designed, and track outcomes to ensure the program delivers intended results. Participants learned how to use a variety of tools (logic models, fidelity assessments, performance indicators) to develop, implement, and assess programs. Lisa used program scenarios to help participants practice building logic models and selecting performance indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of their programs. She also discussed the importance of measuring program fidelity and provided real-world examples of ways to assess whether programs are being delivered as intended.

Humane Society Academy

On April 20, 2016, Lisa presented the first of three webinars on animal abuse and children in collaboration with the Humane Society Academy. During “Animal Abuse and Children: An Important Risk Factor” Lisa discussed the role companion animals play in children’s lives and the growing body of research on the relationship between animal abuse and other types of antisocial behavior. Using case studies, she explained why all professionals dealing with children should be aware of animal abuse as a risk factor for children. The webinar was sponsored by the InMaat Foundation and pre-approved for 1 CE point of continuing education credit toward the Certified Animal Welfare Administrator credential.

“Animal Abuse and Children: An Important Risk Factor” was recorded and can be accessed free of charge.

WXPI 88.5 Williamsport Community Radio

Tune in at 1 p.m. on October 24, 2015 to WXPI 88.5 in the Williamsport, PA area. Lisa will be a guest on Tail Tales and will discuss her work with Grey Muzzle on behalf of homeless senior dogs.

WXPI 88.5

Animal Friends

Lisa presented a day-long workshop at Animal Friends in Pittsburgh, PA, for professionals from a range of disciplines who work with youth, including social workers, attorneys, probation officers, judges, school counselors, teachers, child care providers, mental health professionals, and community members.

The session began with a discussion of the role companion animals play in children’s lives. We discussed the growing body of research on the relationship between animal abuse and other types of antisocial behavior, focusing on animal abuse as an important risk factor in children. Participants learned about animal abuse as an early marker for conduct disorder and research that suggests animal abuse may be related to other adverse childhood experiences, including maltreatment. Using case studies and video vignettes, we explained why all professionals dealing with children should be aware of animal abuse as a risk factor, and discussed what professionals should look for and the types of questions that might be asked about animal-related experiences.

Time: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
Location: Animal Friends, 562 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237

Register

APA Annual Convention

On August 9, 2015 Lisa and colleagues presented a symposium on Human-Animal Interactions in Treating Veterans with PTSD at the 2015 American Psychological Association (APA) Annual Convention held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Lisa’s presentation outlined the findings from evaluations of two different types of programs that pair veterans and shelter dogs: Soldier’s Best Friend (SBF) and VALOR. SBF is a year-long program in which veterans are matched with a shelter dog. Veterans live with their dogs and train them to perform various types of services designed to help ameliorate PTSD symptoms. In addition, SBF program graduates are asked to mentor new veterans entering the program. VALOR is an eight-week program in which groups of five veterans socialize and train shelter dogs that have been subjects in abuse and/or neglect court cases. Through their work with these dogs, the VALOR program is designed to help veterans gain a sense of self-efficacy, improve self-esteem, learn dog training skills that could be used to gain employment, and receive social support from other veterans. The presentation concluded with a discussion of the differences and similarities in the two program models and preliminary research findings from interviews with veterans from both programs.

Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence

On June 22, 2015 Lisa was in Sylvania, Ohio providing a training at the School Therapy Dog Workshop being sponsored by Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence. As part of her work through the Animals and Society Institute, she discussed the importance of identifying and assessing children who have abused animals and may also be experiencing other types of trauma.

University of Michigan

Through her work with the Animals and Society Institute, on June 18, 2015 Lisa presented a session on the assessment and treatment of people who abuse animals as part of the University of Michigan’s mini-course on “Social Work and the Animal-Human Bond.”

20th International Summit & Training on Violence, Abuse & Trauma

Lisa will be presenting “Children, Animal Abuse and Trauma-focused Intervention: What You Need To Know” at the 20th International Summit & Training on Violence, Abuse & Trauma in San Diego, CA on August 25, 2015.

The Animal Conference: A Forum of Ideas, Impact and Inspiration

Lisa was invited by the Kirkpatrick Foundation of Oklahoma to speak at their first Animal Conference of Ideas, Impact, and Inspiration at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City on March 31, 2015. The Foundation’s vision for the conference is to allow those who are professionally or personally part of the animal well-being community to convene and discuss current topics and concerns in the field. Lisa discussed the importance of assessment of and intervention with youth who abuse animals.

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