Episode 108 – Lisa Lunghofer

108 Lisa Lunghofer_FB 108 Lisa Lunghofer_FB width=   Lisa Lunghofer has served as a consultant to animal-related programs throughout the country. Examples of her work include designing an innovative education initiative, based on a public health model, to prevent animal cruelty in Philadelphia; writing grant proposals for programs that promote the human-animal bond; conducting strategic planning with animal and child welfare organizations; evaluating the effects of shelter dogs on veterans diagnosed from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder; and directing the Animal and Society Institute’s animal abuse prevention program.  “Welcome to the Professionals and Animal Rescue podcast, where our goal is to introduce you to amazing people helping animals and share how you can get involved with animal rescue. This Podcast is proudly sponsored by Doobert.com. Doobert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters and the only site that automates rescue relay transport. Now on with our show! Lisa Lunghoffer is Executive Director of Making Good Work and has 25 years of experience working with public sector and nonprofit clients, helping them to create strategic plans, developed logic models write winning grant proposals, build successful programs, develop evaluation plans and track outcomes. She has worked extensively in the areas of animal welfare, the human animal bond, violence prevention and child and family well-being. Lisa is the Executive Director with The Grey Muzzle Organization and also volunteers with Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Washington, D.C. Serving as a member of the foster screening team and as a puppy foster. Hey Lisa, thanks for coming on today. Hi, thanks for having me. So start us off and tell us about you. You’ve got such a very wide background. So interesting everything that you’ve done. Oh, well, thank you very much. It’s been quite a journey. So I started out after I got my doctorate in social policy. I worked for the first 15 or so years of my career doing research and evaluation on children’s exposure to violence. I did a lot of federally contracted projects. So these were big demonstration projects throughout the country that were aiming to develop new, effective strategies to help children who have been exposed to child abuse and also to domestic violence. Actually, in 2008 I had a bit of a career change that was precipitated by a search for a lost dog. Really? Believe it or not, yes. That’s actually how I decided to use the skills that I had developed doing research and evaluation on children’s exposure to violence and use those skills to help animal related organizations. So what happened actually was that I was sitting at home in July of 2008 watching the news on. There was a story on the news about a vet dog, actually an active duty servicemen who was going overseas. He was going to Kuwait, I believe, and he was leaving from Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C., where near where I live. And he was bringing his dog, Geta, with him. And somehow Geta escaped from her crate. Oh no. And ran off into the night. He and his wife were desperately, had been searching desperately for her. And I don’t know how familiar you are with summers in Washington, D.C., but it can get pretty hot here. So he and his wife had been searching desperately for Geta for a week. And they had had some sightings off her but they were pleading for people to come out and help them put out flyers and help with tracking of Geta just to see if they could. They could get another sighting of her. And my heart just broke because I had three dogs at the time and my worst fear was one of them being lost. So I thought, well, a little time out of my Saturday afternoon and go out and try to help them put up flyers and search for their dogs. So I showed up. So look for Geta and actually it turned out that they were there was a a number of us probably five or six of us who were involved with that at the beginning, who stayed on and continue to search for Geta for about three months after that. Oh wow. Yeah, it was really a heart breaking experience. We‘ve had sightings of her and then, you know, we had leads, But they didn’t go anywhere. And through that, though, when there would be a sighting of Geta, we would have a tracking dog called out to run a track. So I thought this was really fascinating because you know what? This time I was, you know, a researcher by day, a dog surfer in the evenings, and I really didn’t know anything about, you know, working dogs and dogs, who are you know, trained to send, to run scent tracks. So I asked the woman her name was Laura and her dog’s name was chewy. And I think, you know, this is really fascinating to me, and I can go out with you on this track. And she said, sure. And we were out on the track and she was telling me about all these things that she does with her dogs in terms of search and rescue and the things that her colleagues did with dogs in terms of animal assisted therapy. And my mind was blown because I really, it was the whole world that I was completely unfamiliar with. Yeah. So I decided that this was something I wanted to get more involved in. So actually, I did some Google searching. I found interesting organizations that were doing what appeared to me to be meaningful work related to the human-animal bond that I e-mailed their directors and said, I’m an evaluator researcher who also happens to be an animal lover. And I know how to write grant proposals, you know. And they said, “sign you up,” right? Exactly, I know how to do evaluation, I know how to develop programs. Would you like to collaborate? And oh, by the way, I’ll do everything for free. So that is how I got my start in the work that I’ve been doing for the last 10 years. So just because of the last time that you saw and you got involved, then you wanted to do more so you started Google searching and ironically, you ended up on human-animal bond. I’m kind of curious of all the searching how you ended up there? I think, you know, because my background was in human services and, you know, research on children’s exposure to violence and family violence. I was really interested in organizations that were not just working on animal welfare, but we’re also working on the intersection between animal and human welfare. So I think that part of you know where I started in this journey on, you know, it’s led me to work with organizations that some of which are more focused on the human side, some of which I’m more focused on the animal side, some of which have sort of unequal balance in between. And I also have worked in addition to working on the kind of the positive side of the human-animal bond. The work that I do with Animals Society Institute has been more focused on the darker side on animal maltreatment and what we know about animal maltreatment, what we need to know about animal maltreatment and how we can intervene with people who have abused or neglected animals. Yeah, that’s gonna be really hard that you’re working like you said, with both the good and the bad of society and of humans, right? Yes, it’s really looking at the whole spectrum of human-animal relationship from the very, very positive and loving relationship that many of us have with the animals that share our hearts and homes, to the not so positive relationship, but thinking about how we can really support people to take better care of their animals and, you know what the context is for maltreatment and what we can do about it. Yeah, I know. And I love that because we can’t just ignore that, right? I mean, it is something that happens and trying to take a proactive approach, as opposed to just once the animal has been abused. I think that’s really smart to try and say, “how do we educate better?” Provide Services it’s not always something that just happens. Exactly. You know, what are the issues facing the people as well in those situations, particularly in situations of neglect, has often times that people aren’t necessarily prepared to meet the needs of their family either. You know, their were two legged family members. Yeah, definitely need to find the right match of like you said the two legged family members in the four legged family members in order for them to all get along together. You also did some work with veterans and PTSD. Tell me a little bit about that. Yes, I did. I was working with Best Friends Animal Society and that was another one of my Google find. Okay. Sherry Woodard there at Best Friends was working on a program called Canine With Careers and the idea was to train shelter dogs to provide various kinds of service and do various kinds of jobs. So things like search and rescue things like trying to be a service dog. And so is part of that. She was working with some veterans who had had rescue dogs or shelter dogs placed with them to provide various types of service to address some of their psychological issues, primarily resulting from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And so I did interviews with about 30 or so veterans several years ago, but I interviewed them, did really in depth interviews with some to look at what type of support their animals gave them and how having a service dog or an emotional support dog really affected their life, that quality of life, their relationships with their family, their ability to, you know, engage and use your basic daily living aspects of daily living. So it was really it was really fascinating to hear first hand, the profound effect that these dogs had on these people’s lives. Yeah, that is really fascinating. I mean something that you know, like you said again, it’s kind of the good and the bad side of humanity and things that have happened to people. But then really trying to understand from them. What specifically is it about these animals that have helped them to cope with the challenges that they face. Exactly. And many of them really did tell very, very moving stories about the effect that the dog had on their lives. I remember talking to one woman who was saying that, you know, before she got her dog, she was just so terrified to leave the house, really, And she had small children. She had a husband, and she talked about not being able to go to the park with her kids. And not being able to go to the movies and feeling like such a burden to her husband because she would always have to do the errands with her, to go to the grocery store and that and she would just, you know, have moments where she just she couldn’t couldn’t deal. She would be in the grocery store and she would just have to—she        would have such anxiety that she would have to leave the cart full and just go home, and that having the dog really gave her that feeling of connection and emotional support, to be able to really live her life and to feel like she was able to do those things with her family that were so meaningful and important. Yeah, animals can have such a profound impact on people and really helped them in a lot of different ways. Absolutely. So now I know you haven’t just kind of stayed local. I was looking at the map of the places that you’ve been involved and you’ve had clients and you found all over the world. Yes, I’ve been very fortunate to work with people you know, not only locally here in the Washington D.C. metro area,  but really all over the country, from abroad as well. Helping on some of the work that I’ve done abroad has been for one of the projects actually was in Israel, and it drew on some of the work that I’ve done with Animals of Society Institute. But trying to help them, the organization think about ways to educate the community to prevent animal maltreatment and two help to try to start to paint some of the norms around what’s acceptable with respect to how we treat animals. That that work is very gratifying. Yeah, I was gonna say, you’ve just gotten the opportunity to do so many different things That’s really got to be really gratifying and just amazing for you to think back on your career and kind of how you really stumbled into the animal world just from helping out with the lost dog. It is. I mean, sometimes when I think about it, it really is astonishing because it really this whole the last 10 years and the work that I’ve done is really the result of showing up, showing up for a lost dogs and being persistence in terms of and I know from being bold. I think that’s another piece of this. I think sometimes when people are thinking about embarking on a new career and something that they don’t necessarily have a whole lot of background in, there can be, you know, some fear that holds you back. You know, concerned about failure. Sure. And, um what if? And I think that what I have learned from this journey is that the passion to do this work has made me bold. And I think that’s a great thing. Absolutely, and I really like just the experience that you have both helping people and the animals, and it sounds like you’re getting to intersect and such interesting ways on some of these programs. That’s really kind of cool. So now tell me a little bit more about The Grey Muzzle because now that is just yet another kind of offshoot. How did you get involved with them? Let’s see, how did I get involved with Grey Muzzle? You know, it’s all sort of a funny—I—when I when I first started on this journey, I talked about cosmic coincidences and it seemed like there were thousands and thousands of that that were sort of leading me on this path. But, you know, one connection led to another. I was actually doing some work with the Philadelphia S.P.C.A several years ago on one of the volunteers from the Philadelphia S.P.C.A was also a volunteer with Grey Muzzle. And I got to know her and she introduced me to the President of the Board of Directors of Grey Muzzle. Who at that time was Jenny Catch Nick and I actually was in—she  lived in Colorado and I happened to be in Colorado doing a presentation for Animals with Society Institute. I met with Danny on and we really clicked. And so I actually did some pro bono work with Grey Muzzle because they were really at a crossroads. Grey Muzzle started as a very grassroots organization in 2008. They were all volunteer until I became their first part time Executive Director in 2015. But I was doing some work with them around strategic planning and just helping them think about how they we’re gonna grow the organization on what what needed to happen in order for them to do that. And one of the things that came out of that was really the need to have a centralized person who’s responsible for the day today running of the organization. So having you know, individual board members doing all the work wasn’t really a sustainable model. So that’s how I got involved with Grey Muzzle. And Grey Muzzle is an interesting organization in that are focuses on improving the lives of at risk senior dogs by providing funding and other resources to animal welfare organizations around the country. So Grey Muzzle in the shelter, our rescue group. We really work behind the scenes to provide funding for programs like hospice care, senior dog adoption, medical screening, dental care, other programs to keep senior dogs in their home. So I’ve really, really enjoyed my work with them over the last couple of years, and I’m really excited about the growth that we’ve seen. We actually we got a grant from Maddie’s Fund in earlier this year, which was really great opportunity. So I’ve been doing very in depth interviews with all of our grantees from last year, 66 of them. Wow. To really understand what’s happening in the field and what’s working and what’s not and what animal shelters and rescue they’re seeing in terms of the changing demographics of the clients they serve both that the human and the animal clients and what I’m finding we have a long way to go in in terms of the study, and I’m looking forward to hopefully having the findings ready for publication and sharing publicly in the spring of next year. But, you know, I’m really seeing some important changes in the age and the condition of animals that are coming into animal shelters, that we’re seeing a lot more older dogs and older dogs who are in need of greater medical care, far fewer puppies, particularly north of the Mason Dixon line. And so I think that there are really important implications there for Grey Muzzle work and how we support organizations to help senior dogs on and also for the field in general. So I think this will be a really important contribution to continuing the conversation about animal welfare and how we can best promote it and keep animals in homes and out of shelters. Yeah, no, and I love all that. I love the description you gave of Grey Muzzle and just that unique focus area. Like you said, you guys were kind of behind the scenes with a very specific purpose. But you’re helping the organization’s right. You’re not just acting as as you said like one resource, you’re paying it forward to all of them and helping them to establish these programs, to take care of senior pets. Because, you know, I like you. I mean, I’ve been through many different pets, and when they get older, they need a little bit more care and to have these animals being dumped at the shelter for reasons that you know aren’t always clear. I mean, it’s important for us to be proactive and try and do what we can to support them. Right, absolutely. And one of the things that’s really important to Grey Muzzle is sustainability. So when we award our grants, we really consider the extent to which the animal shelter rescue that received the grant is committed and prepared to sustain the program after our funding. And so we really want to be providing seed money that will last far beyond the duration of our grant so that we’re equipping shelters and rescues with the tools and the mindset, really, that they need to continue to help seeing your dog. Yeah, no. And that’s really important. Like you’re saying is that it’s not just it’s not just one program, right? You’re trying to create that sustainability. Get them prepared because I think you pointed out the landscaper. Animal welfare’s is really changing and it’s different and it was five years ago. In five years from now, it will be different even more. And we as a as a movement as an industry, need to evolve. We need to evolve, are thinking of all of our programs and be prepared for what’s next. Absolutely, absolutely. I could not agree more. And I think that these changes that we’re seeing, you know, regionally, um you know, with the type of animals coming into care and you know, the transport port that you’re, you know, very well acquainted with, I think all of those all of those are factors that we need to think about and think about how we need to evolve our practices to address those issues. And I really one of things I really love and appreciate is that your goal is to be proactive and to help organizations to keep the animals with their owners, because that is absolutely the best place on it. Surrender should only be a last resort that the animal has to be turned into the shelter because a lot of times they’re not doing it because they want to. It’s because they can’t afford those medical procedures or our dental cleanings or special accommodations that the animal might need. Right. Exactly. Exactly. So you know, how do we change the way that we do business in animal shelters so that we are being, you know, organizations are being more proactive and going out to the community, and particularly to underserved parts of the community that may lack access to veterinary care or may lack education about veterinary care or the money to go to a vet. And you know we have way. We’re seeing an increase that Grey Muzzle in our grantees who are focused on that kind of care. We’re funding one grantee in California and called Care for Paws, and they have a mobile clinic and they go out multiple times a week to underserved areas neighborhoods, and they provide vet care to those people in those neighborhoods so that those animals aren’t surrendered. Yeah, No, I love that. And I love the proactive support of the local community. One of the fascinating things working in this industry is when you talk to different organizations across the country. We’re all focused on animals. But the needs of those animals and the people in those communities are often very different. And the programs need to have some flexibility to be able to do that, to be able to reach into the community, be able to work with the community in order to help the animals and the people. Right? And one thing that I’ve really been struck by, I have been struck by, honestly, so many things in the three interviews that I’ve gone for the Maddie’s Fund grant. But one of the things I’ve been struck by in one of the themes that has emerged from the conversations that I’ve had thus far is that a lot of the shelters and rescue group representatives that I’ve talked to have said that they were really surprised at how opened the community has been. Who’s taking care of senior dogs? I think they were. Seems it seems like there was an assumption. Are reluctant to publicize the fact that they were senior dogs in need of adoption because they, the group’s assumes that people just wanted puppy is and that they wouldn’t open their hearts in their homes to senior dogs. I think with one of the things that the grandmother of grants have done is to encourage animal welfare organizations to step up and to be more open with the community and that, you know, we have this great dog and you know, he’s just has a dental work done and, you know, he might be 12 years old, but he’s, you know, enjoys naps and short walks or maybe long walks on and they really stepped up and opened their homes to those dogs. And I think that’s a really great lesson to have learned. Yeah, so I mean all this and just from seeing a lost dog on TV and now this is really you’ve really taken this to another level and you’re contributing and giving so much back. I’m hesitant even ask you what’s next. What’s next for you, Lisa, where you headed next? What’s your vision for the future? Well, I wish there were more hours in the day. Of course. You know, I think for a Grey Muzzle my hope and my intention is really use the findings from this Maddie’s Fund grant and evaluation to inform the work that we do and the way that we give out grants. And hopefully it will prompt development of some new regional strategies. I don’t know what form those will take quite yet, but I think that there is a need for,  they’re doing some pilot testing of regional collaborative. So that’s something that I hope is on the horizon for us. I’m also working on another grant that’s looking at co sheltering models around the country, so we’re looking at homeless healthcare providers, homeless service providers who accommodate people’s animals. And that’s really exciting in a very new area. So I’m gonna be off doing site business to some of these providers in California and New York in the coming months, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what we learned from that into sharing the best practices that are emerging. And then we’re launching two new diversion programs. So this goes back to the work that I’m doing with Animals of Society Institute. I developed a group 16 week diversion program for animal maltreatment offenders, and we piloted it in Syracuse, New York, about two years ago and last year. And now we have two additional pilots starting this fall one in Rochester and one in Arizona, Maricopa County. So I’m really excited to see what we learn from those programs and continue to work to further refine them so that hopefully we can get them out to more jurisdictions around the country. Wow, that all sounds really cool. It’s really nice to hear kind of the next evolution and things. And these programs that, like you, said, they’re very unique and different. But they’re very needed in the country today. They are really a privilege and an honor to be able to be working on them. Lisa, I’ve really enjoyed talking today and just learning about you and all the wonderful things that you’ve been doing. Is there anything else you want to share before we wrap things up? No, I appreciate the opportunity to share my journey, and I appreciate all the work that you do. And you know, if people are interested in more information, you know about any of the organizations that I work with or how I got started and if I can provide any coaching or encouragement, I’m happy to do that. So folks are, you know, more than welcome to reach out to me, and you can learn more about me and connect with me at my website, makinggoodwork.org. That’s my own organization that I started. And it provides the umbrella for all of this work that I’ve been doing around the country. Yeah, no, it’s, it’s a great site. And there’s lots of information like you said about you and about the programs and that you’ve done. And people can certainly get in touch with you there, so well, thank you so much, Lisa, for coming on. The program is great to talk to you. Thank you so much Chris, take care. Thanks for tuning into today’s podcast. If you’re not already a member, join the ARPA to take advantage of all the resources we have to offer. And don’t forget to sign up with Doobert.com. It’s free and helps automate the most difficult tasks in animal rescue.”
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