From The Squawking Macaw by Bob Kaegi
Again we will discuss the criminal case portion of a shelter operation. After the main primary operation of a raid or criminal case there will still be ongoing parts of an operation that must be handled with a great deal of security.
If you are working in a shelter, you should know everyone in there working with you. If someone is there that doesn’t look like they fit in ask the Shelter Manager if they belong .You may see lawyers on both sides of a case, or others there looking in on the Operations. If you are questioned about anything, do not answer; state that you are just a volunteer caring for the birds. The Humane Agent or Shelter Manager should be the only one talking to any visitors.
One of the most difficult parts of dealing with a case is the Media / Social Media Craze. It is and will always be the job of Broadcast Media to get information, from anybody, and everybody dealing with the case. While they get paid to do their job, as a volunteer it isn’t your job to discuss anything. If you find a camera or microphone in your face, the only response you should have is “no comment”, or” I can direct you to the Shelter Manager “.
Social media is another area you should steer clear of in making any comments of what you hear, or see in the shelter; in some instances you may be asked to sign a media confidentiality agreement. Take it seriously, as anything you may say could land you in front of a judge, and may destroy the very case you as a participant you are a part of. Find out what is within limits or off limits before sharing anything.
Also depending on the case, security of the shelter may come into play. It is important to remember; each side has their supporters, and will do anything to assert their opinions. They may do anything they can to cause trouble for staff and volunteers alike. I have witnessed a shelter being watched, and those who would like to intimidate those who are trying only to take care of the animals in need.
In a Disaster
At some point the family may arrive to either collect their bird or even just want to visit. First they should sign in, and provide some identification; also they need to have some proof of address where they lived in the affected area. They should also be able to provide photos, and or anything that shows proof of ownership.
Remember, animals may have been left behind during the disaster, and Humane Agents or AC’s may have had to remove them. They may have also been running the streets so making identification maybe difficult, and or tying them back to a certain address.
Things are not as always clear cut in a disaster, however when dealing with the media and social media the principles are the same, direct the press to your supervisor, Public Information Officer, or Disaster Operations. Don’t post anything on social media about what you are seeing, that is what the Public Information Officer is for, they will make sure information they want out there is posted.
The security and safety is very important not only for you, but for that of each animal you care for, this is why it is important not to talk about anything you see or hear in the shelter.