Episode 71 – Adriana Bradley

71 Adriana Bradley_FB

71 Adriana Bradley_FB

 

Adriana Bradley is the founder and Executive Director of NJ Strays . She is also a dog trainer, and owner of a dog boarding facility and dog training school in New Jersey. As a business owner she wants to give back to the community that has supported her for many years.  She believes sharing her knowledge and understanding of animals will increase lifesaving at a local level. NJ Strays was born as a community outreach organization outside the traditional shelter or rescue structure to help people and their pets. They believe in creating a local network where people can get involved and support other pet owners in need.

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Since 2012 Adriana Bradley and New Jersey Strays have been focusing on the recovery of lost pets, relocating stray cats, and preventing animal surrender by pet owners. Their mission is to reduce shelter in take to decrease euthanasia among animals that shelters in their community by providing free pet services to pet owners in need in the New Jersey area.

Hey, Joanna, welcome to the show.

Thank you so much. I’m very happy to be here and to share the amazing information I have to share with you today, to share my experience and very, very happy and honored to be here with you.

Well, thank you. It’s really exciting to have you. So I want you to start by telling us a little bit about you and how you got involved and got the bug for animal rescue.

Sure. I am the CEO of New Jersey Strays. I’m also the founder of New Jersey Strays. A no-kill animal welfare organization located in New Jersey. I’m going to show you just a little bit about me. My background is very interesting. I went to school for a Philosophy major, so I was involved in human behavior before I even got into animal behavior. I worked in education for many years in South America where I’m already from and I have always been an animal lover and an activist, and I believe that part of that love for animals comes from my philosophy field which is great. It just opens up too many possible ways of thinking about animals. Especially when you deal about ethics and community work and my love for activism has roots in my educational background as well. I moved to the States 12 years ago when I met my husband and I had the opportunity of beginning this journey. So my husband and I decided to start a new business in the pet industry and my husband also started his career as a dog trainer, and we both love what we do.

After a few years working in the pet industry, I decided to follow my husband’s path and I became a dog trainer as well. We found a perfect balance in our business and what we were doing as part of working with humans, but also with animals. I believe that as trainers, we have a huge responsibility for our community to make people aware of how to deal with companion animals, how to understand them. There was a point that we were not only working with clients but with people that needed help and they couldn’t afford to get advisers, dog trainers, things like that. We also were doing some shelter evaluations, and we feel that was a way to give back to the community from what we were already doing, which is working with animals. I saw the perfect opportunity for me to continue working in education, which is one of my passions and just combined with dog training. I knew I wanted to do something different. I wanted to help people to understand animals. We’re doing a lot of research and see what else I could do outside what was already being done in the state to, help animals through education and working with humans as well with the community.

Sure, that’s cool. So you started your philosophy, and then you’ve now got gotten into the animal rescue world. So you recognize the need, which is amazing. Tell us about some of the programs that you started with first and maybe tell us a little bit more about what animal welfare’s like in your community.

Sure. When I started New Jersey Strays back in 2012, I think that the opportunity came up to me because I was working in lost pet recovery. I Was. I went through a difficult situation with a personal pet, and as a dog trainer, I thought that he was going to be easy for me to recover. I had all the tools and knew everything. There’s the situation. I evaluated what I was doing. I realized I did everything wrong and me knowing dogs for so many years I was, I’m amazed when I found out I did so many things wrong. I wanted to share my knowledge, my experience with other people because, pet owners in general don’t know what to do when, going through, and they’re going through a situation like this. After this, this case, the situation that I went through, I decided to start doing more research about lost pet recovery, and I started using my skills as a dog trainer to help others. That’s how the organization started.  But after a few months of me going through this program, which we call it the Lost Pet Recovery program of New Jersey Strays.

In 2012 I was put in a situation where a family I was helping in Newark, New Jersey, their pet was missing for a few days. We find out the pet was mistakenly euthanized at one of our local shelters. These was the breaking point for me because I didn’t realize how much need was out there outside the shelter structure. The rescues, structure. How we as a community can do a lot to help others. So I went through, I put up a different program that did a lot of research about no-kill movement. I did a little research about community outreach, and I focused on three different programs. At first of course I wanted to do much more. I wanted to do many things but you’re so little and you have you need a lot of help. You need people to believe in your cause, so in time, I cut my 20 ideas into 6, and currently, we have 3.

New Jersey Strays is a volunteer-based community outreach organization. What we do is we work with people. We work with pet owners. We give them resources they need, we believe we can do much more outside the shelter system. We prevent pets from coming into the shelter system through the resources we offer to the community. We believe that education is the key to our organization and, telling people, giving them resources, convincing sometimes to give time for I don’t know, behavior assessment, or maybe convincing about spay and neutering. It’s important, and that’s where we focus our currently and that’s what we’ve being doing, and we believe that through these services we can decrease pet abandonment. We’re hoping, to work with other organizations that we believe that there’s something that can be done outside the shelter and, the rescue structure that we already have in place and it’s great.

So we are not a shelter, not a rescue. We are complements to, both structures. We are no-kill. So we, we are pro saving lives in creating programs that can increase lifesaving in our community. We’re very small. We currently cover New Jersey only. We are hoping to offer the services to the rest of the state in a few years.  But currently, we cover counties in New Jersey and that’s what we do.

Yes, I think that’s cool. I’m excited to hear you talk about the prevention aspect because that’s – as you talked about the shelter and rescue system, if you can even prevent the animals from entering that system by working with the owners and helping them find the resources they need, you’re reducing stress in the overall system. You’re helping pets and that’s just a really smart and brilliant approach to take. How is that working in your community? What types of programs and resources do you offer to people?

We have three main programs as of 2018. You have our lost pet recovery project and well, for different resources to people on how to find their missing pets.  Where to go, who to call. We also have a website for pet reporting. So when that there’s someone found a pet or a family missing their pet, they can go to our website. If you get a full report and that report is being sent, we have, like an email alert system that goes to different counties. We also have social media pages which works very well for us because social media is just great to connect with people. We also have different services we offer. We do trapping services as well after a dog has been sighted. But the dog is not responding to the owner. We offer that service as well, we do some consultation, and we do video creation. I mean, we do a lot of resources and give a lot of resources to people that are looking for help going through these difficult times. If we found a pet, we can work with shelter and maybe offering the possibility of the organization putting the found pet in the foster instead of bringing it to a shelter. This way, we decrease the number coming into the shelter system. But of course, there are legalities and regulations about these.

So we are really, it is a deal that we have with different shelters. It depends on what they want to do. They want to work with us. Some shelters do some others feel that they should have their pets. So we try to work as much as we can in not stressing the pet in bringing it into a shelter. We think we can do a lot more outside from the outside to reunite a found pet that a shelter can do because they have limited resources and we have all the resources that you can help them and complement what they already do. We also have a barn cat project in our barn cat project is just one of those amazing programs we have. We know there are other organizations across the country that have barn cat location as well.

I went to Texas a few years ago and I learned a little about barn cat relocation and is one of those programs that is so needed because that the cat population is just very large in New Jersey. When we’re talking about companion animals euthanized inside shelters, the numbers are alarming when you talk about cats. So we tried to bring resources and work with TNR groups and, offer an opportunity of relocating some of these homeless cats to rural areas. We have a great adoption program. A lot of people are afraid of using barn cat relocation because they think that is just we’re going to just dump cats in the middle of nowhere. But this is an adoption process like any other adoption. We, check families, make sure we give them their resources they need. There’s an adoption contract. I mean, everything is how it’s supposed to be because we’re dealing with animals and animals that we love, and we are bringing them and giving them an opportunity. So we take these very responsibly and we work with different TNRs. Our barn cat project is not a product that is replacing TNR. We will always push and promote TNR first.

We believe that cats are part of our community, and we shouldn’t just move them every time someone wants. Still, our barn cat program is really for a homeless cat in dangerous situations. There are colonies that need to be removed, or they’re just, in a location that could be dangerous. It’s the last recourse for feral cats that, don’t do with humans. Some awesome, awesome people own land and farms and are willing to take some of these cats. Our third program or project that we currently have is our owner surrender prevention. We launched this program this year 2018, and it’s slowly growing. So this is the base of the reduction of sheltering take we offer. We worked, I really with pet owners and give them different resources so they don’t have to surrender their pets in the shelter. We do veterinary care systems. We do pet food. We do dog boarding, temporary dog boarding. We do a temporary fostering. We also do behavioral assessment for dogs and cats, and we also sponsor spay and neutering. I love the problems that come to us from families that don’t know what to do with their cat because their behavior is changing and things like that because they’re not spayed or neutered. Yes. So we can easily talk to a family and give them a different resources and work with them, educate them. It’s important for us and this project is exactly what we offer.

We also have our fostering program, which is very important because we have families going through difficult times, divorce, health issues, deployment, eviction, and these pets are in the middle of all these stipulations, and it doesn’t necessarily mean the family wants to get rid of the pet. Just sometimes there’s no other alternative. So we’re trying to be the organization that is there for the community and gives these families a break because they’re going through different things that require a lot of sanctions from their part. So helping them with their pet somehow is giving them a little break. We currently have a 90-day program for foster, termporary foster and we have a 30-day program for boarding facilities. There are some requirements depending on the situation, we will find boarding or fostering if it’s a good fit for the pet.

Yes, this amazing program is growing. We are hoping to grow this program next year. It’s expressing that were spreading about what we’re doing, and we’re very, very happy to be able to help other families and also to recruit families that are helping us with these because our temporary foster program, it’s made possible, thanks to the amazing hearts of families that understand that they’re helping their neighbors in the community. They’re helping others that are going through difficult times just to get back on their feet. So it is just amazing.

Wow. I mean, I’m just listening to you and talking about all of what you’ve done here just in the last six years. You guys have come a long way. That sounds like you’ve got many more things you want to do and continue to roll it out across New Jersey.

Yes. So I think every year we come with something new for the organization and we are all volunteer based. So these organization runs, thanks to the amazing hearts of volunteers, thanks to the amazing hearts of families that are supporting our cause. Every time we find someone new that he’s willing to take on a new task in a new project, we can say we grow. We share a lot of ideas. Sometimes we have, amazing programs that we wanted to run, but they don’t work because he’s not a good fit for our community. We just have to evaluate those cases and just bring something new. ]

For the future, for next year, for example, we want to grow our foster base for our temporary foster program. We want the owner surrender prevention, too, uh, to create, to be able to have more families. We are launching our partner in the program on a local, base, we are trying to get more partners, all the rescue organizations, and people within the pet industry to support this cause and work all together towards these missions and also the education program. I mean, we have an educational program that we have been doing for quite some time. It is not, it hasn’t been structured completely. We are launching next year more structured program for schools and also communities in the North Jersey area.

So we’re going to have a lot of workshops, and a lot of conversations with different communities and people that want to ask questions about their pet and where to find researches. We want to open the conversation, a more relaxed conversation about animals where people understand, are interested in getting resources, but also in knowing how they can contribute to the animal welfare in New Jersey.

Wow, again. I just love your focus on the collaboration and education and working with people because that’s really what a lot of it is helping them to understand the resources that they have helped them to solve their problems while caring for the animals.

Correct. I think that is the focus that we have in New Jersey.  And we see that there are always been a problem with the lack of education within our area. I think as humans, we were still behind, understanding how animals, for example, behave or they’re neat. I think as a dog trainer, I have the mission of explaining that to people and make people understand. Also, I stopped someone that came to the United States and come from another country. I see a lot of, different aspects we bring from our own country. We bring out our traditions and our views about animals wherever we come from and those are great but we’re wrong sometimes. We have a different approach. I think the needs that we currently have are different. We’re in a different country because we know different situations. Things have changed, and I think our mission is to be able to also educate people in a lot of changes. We need to apply to make things better for our animals.

So there’s a lot of conversation that needs to happen and I think education always come through nice conversations, through no judgment, it’s just talking, it’s letting people nicely know the problems. So we want to focus on the positive things of animal welfare instead of the negative things. We want a positive story, a positive outcome. That’s really where we want to be as an organization.

Yes, and I 100% support that I do believe that it is. It’s an emotional subject sometimes, and as you said that when you treat people with respect and you try and help them and listen and educate, instead of as I would call it clubbing him over the head as to why they’re wrong, you get a much further conversation, right, and they’re much more willing to engage and learn. That’s our goal, to try and change things for the animals long-term not just to tell people they’re wrong. This is the right way to do things.

Correct and yes, you brought up a good point. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do with our education or educational program. We were trying to create long-lasting solutions to the problem we have of abandonment in New Jersey. How can we approach these? How can we approach this problem? What else we can do?  We believe we created this problem in the first place. We should find a solution that is, that he has to go back to the roots of the problem. Adoptions are great and what rescue organizations are currently doing. It’s amazing. But for us, for example, New Jersey Strays, we wanted to take another task. It’s what the other organizations don’t know we’re doing so we can complement them. We can focus on finding alternatives to adoption. We want to create a solution that can last and stop somehow this huge problem of strays and loss and abandoned companion animals.

I really think the program that you guys have developed, the whole mission that you’ve developed is comprehensive in what you’re doing with the types of support and education. And as you say, focused on owner surrender prevention, which is something that is very much on the leading edge, of trying to say, let’s solve the problem before it becomes a problem. There’s a reason people are turning their animals into a shelter, and it’s not always something that’s in their control. So treating them with respect, helping, educate, learn, share with them the resources and things that they may not be aware of and ultimately has a better outcome for the animals.

Yes, correct, that’s exactly what we’re looking for.

Well, Adriana this is great. I appreciate you coming on and sharing. Is there anything else you want to mention before we wrap things up?

Well, I want to thank you. Thank you so much for the opportunity. I will love to say that, New Jersey Strays is here to work with, any organization, any family, any individual that is passionate about animals and animal welfare. We want to create an impact in New Jersey. We want to. I’ll fight for the animals we lost and to create a safe state for our pets. So I invite anyone interested in knowing more about organizations to give us a call. There’s no other way to get things done if we don’t work together, and that’s just key for us to to be able to achieve our goals and to save more life.  It’s just an invitation to all people that are interested in joining the mission, the great mission we have of increasing lifesaving just to contact New Jersey Strays, we’ll be happy.

It’s also an invitation for those that need our resources, just give us a call, and we will be happy to assist in, anyway we can.

Very well stated, Adriana. I very much appreciate your collaborative approach. So thank you so much for coming on the program today. It was great to talk to you.

Thank you so much.

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