Every month we'll be featuring a rescue, and rescuer, that is taking an innovative approach to their work with animals.
We're thrilled to kick off this feature with an interview with Kate Mudge, who only recently made the transition to animal rescuer. Kate is now the Executive Director of Pet Haven in Minneapolis, the oldest rescue in Minnesota (founded in 1952) and is super busy helping take Pet Haven to the next level (they just re-launched their website and it's cat-tastic!). Here she is to tell us more about what she's been up to...
Sparkie: Word in the dog park is that you used to be a baker. So how did you come to be involved in animal rescue?
Kate: "Yep, I spent my 20’s and early 30’s covered in flour at local bakeries throughout the Twin Cities. After I received my BA from the University of Minnesota, I took a job as 'Food Rescue Manager' at Second Harvest Heartland. My job was to work with retail grocers to collect unsold food (dairy, meat, produce). Our team would then distribute the goods to local food shelves and meal programs. After 7 years at the food bank, I decided that my real passion was to rescue animals (since I have a house full of rescues, it only made sense.) Pet Haven was hiring for an Executive Director and I was lucky enough to land the job in March, 2015"
Sparkie: You've mentioned in the past that your previous experience at Second Harvest is in many ways analogous to animal rescue operations. Can you elaborate on this a bit?
Kate: "Yes, collecting unwanted food and animals is strangely related. Both acts rely heavily on logistics, volunteers, and communication. A lot of planning and coordination is involved in ensuring the safe transfer of short-dated food to people in need. Same with the pups and cats—timelines are tight, people need to be in constant communication, and a whole lot of training is needed for living creatures to find their way into a foster home (and into their permanent home.) Then there is the marketing and fundraising side to things- raising the money to do the work and promoting an organization’s work to the community"
Sparkie: Pet Haven is in the process of changing things up; in fact, your recent move to Pet Haven is a sign of that...can you tell us a bit more about the transformation Pet haven is undergoing?
Kate: "Volunteers are, and always have been, Pet Haven’s backbone. They’ve done the heavy lifting for 60+ years and kept Pet Haven strong. One of the things that is tricky for all-volunteer organizations is to coordinate and implement new systems, such as databases. When I came to Pet Haven, I recognized that we would have to update our practices so that we were relevant and our internal systems were more streamlined. We are now rebuilding our website, using a new CRM to track our donations and grant awards, and implementing a new animal management software to better track our kiddos from intake to adoption. With all of the technological advancements occurring at rapid-fire pacing, we’re also focusing on how we can use social media, apps, and photos/videos to broaden our reach into new communities"
Sparkie: You work at a rescue so clearly love animals. Tell us about your furry kids!
Kate: "My partner and I have 3 rascals at home. Marlowe (our oldest) is an 8-year-old “big black dog” and gentle giant. Bizzie is our 3-year-old border collie/blue heeler mix who was brought to a local shelter in Wisconsin by an Amish family who don’t spay/neuter their farm dogs (a big problem here in the Midwest.) We are currently teaching her that herding bicycles is a no-no. And Hank is our 8-year-old orange tabby who we rescued from Pet Haven long before I was the ED! He runs the show"
Sparkie: Every day there seems to be an article out there about a new social media tool, some new technology, you name it. Animal rescues aren’t immune to how fast the world is changing. If you had to give rescuers one piece of advice about how to stay on top of all the changes taking place out there, what would that be?
Kate: "I’ve found that if I feel overwhelmed by something, there is always help to be found. Recruiting a volunteer to manage social media (or any other program, tech need, database, etc) is key! Having a focused Communications plan in place is also helpful- it keeps rescues on track and helps messages stay focused. I hear from so many rescues out there that 'there isn’t enough time to do all the work.' And while it can be exhausting, it doesn’t always have to be if you’re thinking about the future and creating clear goals, so you feel as if achievements can be celebrated"
Sparkie: Tell me about one of the animals in your care that really stands out to you and you’d love for people to meet.
Kate: "'Mursey' is a dog we’ve had in our foster program for WAY too long. She came from a rural shelter in Minnesota, where shelter life got to her. She started showing some aggression and was deteriorating, so we took her in. Her foster family worked with a behaviorist to help her settle into her new home with the resident dog. Mursey is a total lover, but has the 'unfortunate' black-dog genes and is pit mix, so she gets passed over all the time"
Sparkie: Thank you Kate! We'll be sure to give her - and you - a big shout-out when we publish the post. Check out Mursey's picture below!
Are you a rescuer who is trying a new approach to rescue, or has some cool things to share with your peers? We'd love to interview you! Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be in touch