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August 15, 2012

2012 Animal Care Expo: An Invaluable Experience

Eighteen interns get hands-on training

Humane Society International

  • Soraya Simon (with buddy Frasier), who interned at Animal Allies Humane Society in Duluth, Minnesota. Paulette Senior

by Paulette Senior

In the week prior to the 2012 Animal Care Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, 18 conference attendees had the opportunity to complete an HSI internship—an invaluable life experience.

“I learned quite a lot of information during my internship—adoption procedures, proper cleaning of kennels, animal behavior, stock management and fundraising skills, which will come in handy,” said Tom Sandi, national coordinator of the Campaign Against Cruelty to Animals in Sierra Leone, who spent time at the Capital Humane Society in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Spreading best practices

The program was created to train those involved in animal advocacy, sheltering/control and humane education around the world.

Participants are placed at U.S. animal shelters, where they are exposed to full-spectrum shelter management, including the intake, kennel care, adoption and behavior training of shelter animals. The interns can then take their new knowledge of well-run facilities back home to share with their colleagues. The friendships they form are also helpful, allowing them to reach out to both their hosts and each other to discuss problems they might face in the future.

“I enjoyed the openness and ready-to-help attitudes from the staff of Capital Humane Society. I ask myself why the internship time came and went so quickly, [and it was because] I was enjoying myself,” Sandi said. “I am going to miss the wonderful people and the peaceful animals at the shelter.”

Another intern, Soraya Simon of Brazil, echoed his sentiments.

"I had a wonderful time during my internship at Animal Allies Humane Society [in Duluth, Minnesota]," she said. “It's a great organization, with amazing people [who were] so kind to share so much about the awesome job they do for the animals. I feel very privileged for this learning experience. I certainly learned a lot and made very dear friends I'll never forget... I'm very grateful to HSI and Animal Allies for this great opportunity!"

Both sides benefit

The internship is a learning experience for the hosts, as well. Each intern gives a presentation about his or her own organization and its work so that the U.S.-based management and staff can get a sense of the animal welfare challenges developing countries face.

"Capital Humane Society has hosted Humane Society International interns for a number of years. Our staff enjoys the opportunity to share their knowledge in helping other people and the animals they serve as well as learning from them,” said Robert Downey, president and CEO of the organization. “I find our staff to be more appreciative of the assets and resources they have to work with when they become aware of how little people in other countries have. We always look forward to this event every year.”

For the Humane Society of Huron Valley, which participated in the program for the first time in 2012, being a host organization was an eye-opening, humbling experience, according to Director of Operations Jennifer Paillon.

“It felt great to know that our practices and struggles can help progress in another part of the world,” she explained. “This was our first time participating in this program, and I hope they learned as much as interns as we did as hosts! We look forward to future opportunities.”

The 2012 hosts and participating interns were:

  • Ana Leslie Revollo, Bolivia, and Iris Zavala, Peru, Yavapai Humane Society, Prescott, Arizona
  • Damitha Mapitiya, Dinesh Wellawa, Manjula Jayasinghe and Roshan Fernandopulle, Sri Lanka, SPCA Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
  • Abdul Jalloh, Sierra Leone, Denver Dumb Friends League, Denver, Colorado
  • Dauson Sadyoya, Tanzania, and Felipe Cardoso, Ecuador, Marin Humane Society, Novato, California
  • Krishna Singh, Nepal, and Tom Sandi, Sierra Leone, Capital Humane Society, Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Soraya Simon, Brazil, and Saymara Correa, Puerto Rico, Animal Allies Humane Society, Duluth, Minnesota
  • Ivan Kurajov, Serbia, and Amr Fathalla, Egypt, Humane Society of Huron Valley, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Emmanuel Eyoh, Nigeria, Sacramento SPCA, Sacramento, California
  • Richard Ssuna, Malawi, Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Moataz Galal, Egypt, Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley, Las Cruces, New Mexico
  • Alexander Romero, Colombia, San Diego Humane Society & SPCA, San Diego, California

For more information on becoming a host organization, please contact Donna Pease, HSI international coordinator for the Animal Care Expo at dpease@hsi.org. The 2013 Expo will be held May 8-11 in Nashville, Tennessee.

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