Episode 85 – Sarah Dunsmore

Sarah Dunsmore with CDE Animal Cages aim to connect shelters and rescue groups with enclosures that are designed with the goal of comfort and security for healthy animals and ease of use for the humans that take care of them.  Open air enclosures with various portalized options have proved not only to reduce euthanasia rates, but make for more adoptions and healthier and happier animals.  We want to let as many rescues and shelters know about these benefits as we can, in hopes that we can play a small part in the great work that is being done in the animal rescue community.

Welcome to the Professionals and Animal Rescue podcast, where goal is to introduce you to amazing people helping animals and share how you can get involved with animal rescue. This’ll Podcast is proudly sponsored by do bert dot com. Do Bert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters and the only site that automates rescue Relate Transport. Now on with our show, Sarah Dunsmore co owned CD animal Cages with her husband, Sean, in Omaha, Nebraska, born into an animal rescue oriented family. The trend continue when Sean and Sara were married 20 years ago, and the pair has had horses, donkeys, goats, dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, Guineas, gecko’s guinea pigs and a pony well and to human kids throughout their marriage. CD has been in business for over 30 years and was a perfect fit for the couple when they purchased it several years ago and moved the company toe mah. Within days of taking ownership of the business, Sarah and Sean knew they wanted to shift the focus the business to specifically help shelters and rescue groups of the moonlighting. As a college professor, Sir is truly passionate about incorporating the concept of health to animals but providing rescue professionals and nonprofessionals the tools they need to be able to do the real work that the world depends on helping animals to stay healthy and find forever. Homes. Hey, sir. Thanks for coming on today. Paying. So I’m happy to be here. Thanks for having me. We’re really excited to have you as well. So So tell us a little bit about you and kind of how you got into this. Um well, I have Ah, A little bit of a different background. I think I started, um, with a love for animals. As a young child, he lived out in the country and sort of ah, performed our own type of rescue program in that anyone who dropped off a an animal out in the country. We took them in Esso. Uh, we just started as a family rescuing anyone who was out on our road. Um, and that just really continued when I met my husband Sean. Um, he had grown up in a similar background and loved animals. And the two of us kind of Just combine that and continue Teoh, just adopt and ah, love on animals. Um, as we, you know, loved on each other. We, uh we waited a little while. The have kids, so we had a slew of animals as our kids. Anything from horses, toe donkeys, goats, dogs, cats, guinea pigs. We’ve kind of had one of everything, and ah, my background is actually in health. I have a PhD in health, and I do a little side work at ah, at the University of Nebraska. Um, teaching. Um so but I I have always kind of had this underpinning of a love for animals. And it’s kind of been an interesting ride, taking my knowledge of health and my love for animals. Um, And then several years ago, about three years ago, my husband and I had a opportunity to purchase a enclosure business where we hand make and manufacturer cages, Um, for all sorts of groups for shelters and zoos, rescue groups, wildlife rehabilitator Z. And it was in that marriage of starting a business that was, um, working with animals and specifically animals, environment, And then my background in health and the concepts that I had I learned and applied on humans about overall wellness and how many factors really play into that for humans and found that a lot of them really apply to animals as well. And a lot of those have to do with their environment and their stress level. Sharon just kind of how they are set up. So, um, it’s been a wind e kind of tricky road here, but I feel like, um, now that we’re running this this small family business and we have two kids to human kids now eyes along with along with a ton of animals as well. But it’s been kind of a culmination of all of that to get where we’re at. And, um, and now my passion is just kind of really using those concepts and trying to, um, incorporate them in, especially in the the animal rescue community, is as much as we can. Yeah, no, it’s really fascinating to me. I mean, you’ve got this background and health, right? And the the CD cages business was an existing business that you guys acquired and took over, right? Correct. Yes, it’s It’s been in business for over 30 years, so it started really small with a, um, a couple, actually in California, and my husband has always had kind of an entrepreneurial spirit, as I was working on, you know, academics and graduate work in health. He has always wanted had that, um I need to do his own thing and run and run his own business. And as we had Children, we really wanted kind of this family setting. And so it it when we saw this business for sale several years ago, it was just a perfect fit, given that we were so passionate in our personal lives about animals. And I had some knowledge, um, about health and, um, just kind of being able to incorporate all of those into, um, a model where we could look at How can we contribute to saving animals and making animals lives better with the knowledge we’ve got And then also, with this platform we’ve got of this business, and how could we incorporate those? And the similarities and the opportunities really just kind of came out of the woodwork on, um on what? Weaken provide for people? No, that’s really cooling. And you’re talking to somebody that obviously doesn’t know a lot about cages and even within animal shelters. So maybe, you know, educate me a little bit as to cause you mention reducing euthanasia. Obviously, that’s something that grabs my attention. So how does a cage help to reduce euthanasia? Well, it’s a super good question. And, um, and the goal of a lot of shelters and rescues, right? We’ve We’ve moved, thankfully in this direction of really trying to kind of look at the numbers that are coming into the shelters. And what’s the best way that we can get thes animals into homes into loving families? And so a lot of that has to do with how they are housed and the way that they’re housed. Um, for example, the first and probably the most obvious to someone like me that works with cages every day is and who frequents animal shelters. I mean, the running joke. Before, we had Children between my husband and I would call him, and he was working at a bank at that time, and, um, I would call him, and there’s like millions of dogs barking in the background, and I’m I guess, Ryan. Yeah, he’s like, Ah, home because it sounded exactly like home. But I was actually, of course, just on my lunch break from graduate school in the animal shelter, just looking who was there? And, um so I think kind of the first thing is is the way the animals are presented. Two potential adopt adopters who come in, Um so an inviting environment one where they can interact with with a healthy animal and kind of see the personality of the animal obviously helps to increase visibility. It it sort of helps to make a connection between the animal and the person. Um, which in turn gives increased, um, adoption rates. But more specifically, there have been some guidelines that have come out recently set forth by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians and the Humane Society of Silicon Valley is actually this last year was the first shelter Teoh gain this certification of being a model shelter. And they are the ones that I think really depict this this idea of decreased euthanasia rates based on caging and what they found when they were trying to look at thes standards and then go into their shelter and try to meet as many as the of the guidelines as they would need to do in order to be a model shelter. They looked at the traditional cages that they had, which were, um, like what my husband and I call like single unit stainless steel box cages. And you probably are familiar with those if you have been, especially behind the scenes and a animal shelter. But they went into those cages and where one cat was in a unit per one, usually one capper unit, and they went into those stainless steel cages and port allies them. So they had someone come in and cut a hole in between, um, adjoining units, um, horizontally. So they essentially cut there, um, feasible and usable cages in half. Um, which would seem opposite and would seem contrary to what you would think it would make sense if you’re really trying to use your what you had. But by by putting those portals in, they were able to separate where a cat, um, has kind of their rest time and their their food and where they look around and hang out, and then they’ve got a whole other separated section which they could gain access to it any time where they could keep the litter box and, um, so urination and defecation is kept in a completely separate area, and the amount of room that the cat has was essentially doubled. Now there was a ton of resistance. But what they ended up finding waas that the less stressed the animal waas, the less sick the animal is, and then the lower amount of time they spend in the shelter because they’re not sick. And so when people come in and see the animal, there ableto interact with a healthy and happy animal. So there’s more adoptions, which means more animals can be brought in. Now that’s kind of ah ah, a process. But when I read about that specific example in just the success that they had and how they were trying to get the message out of, it’s the exact opposite of what you think. If you give these animals a little bit more room and a few more options, you can actually improve their lives, and we don’t have to put asses many animals down on. We actually see adoption numbers going up, and so we’re running mawr animals through the same number of cages, even though we have less units. So when I read that, I we had just want the business. But I think that’s what really pushed Sean and I to focus on rescue groups and shelters because our product is, um, has the capability of, um, portals either vertically or horizontally. So, um, it kind of the way that our cages are offered. We, uh, we could do single units, of course, but we can also do like cage banks and that they’ve got vertical, um, vertical dividers, which could be solid. Or they can. They can be wire if you’re, for example, if you’re dealing with rabbits. There’s really nothing that can be passed between two rabbits who are next to each other, and especially if if they don’t get along and they need a separation. But really, the only thing that could be passed from rabbit to rabbit is flees. You don’t have to worry about keeping them. Of course, Now we’re talking about healthy animals. If you’ve got, there’s there’s definitely a time and a place for a stainless steel kind of box that is solid and provides privacy and quarantine. But, you know, I think the goal of a lot of animal shelters and rescue groups is to have health be working with as many healthy animals as they can. So if you can have a vertical divider between two sides, if you need to split two animals up and then if you’ve got less animals, you can take that vertical divider out without having to cut a hole in the existing cage where that’s not really, um, the intention. In addition to horizontally, we can also all of our cages. We offer what we call access holes and or recess litter pan. So imagine of a floor in a unit. That’s what, like 30 inches deep, maybe 30 36 inches wide. So the floor, um, we have about 12 by 15. I kind of made those numbers up, but I believe my husband’s kind of the numbers guy, but 12 to 15 12 by 15 inches, hole in the floor, which either a litter box could be set in. If you’d like to keep it closed, Um, or it could be opened up. So if you’ve got a a three tier cage that’s got three units, um, going vertically if you have those access holes um, installed upon, you know, getting your cage, then you’ve got the flexibility that if you’ve got unless animals or a couple of animal a couple of cats that get along they’ve got access to three different stories. So it’s like a They open up their one little bedroom studio to kind of a three storey condo where they can go up and down. So those are things that we already build into our product. So is really refreshing to see that something that we kind of had been selling as just like a nice little feature, actually has implications for the health of animals and for the process that these rescue groups are going through. And that’s kind of our goal is setting them up for success, for taking an animal’s keeping them healthy, Um, and then being able to display these animals, um, to people who are are looking for a healthy, happy pet to bring home to be a part of their family. Yeah, and it’s It’s so fascinating to me to listen to that. It’s It’s like I was figuring you were going to say that you kind of moved away from your background and health and, you know, learned about structural engineering and cages and all this other stuff and as it turns out your background and health is actually very applicable to all of this that you’re talking about, because reducing reducing disease and contamination and all these other things is a real big problem in shelters. It absolutely is. And you know if if we get down to the basics, the concepts between humans and animals are very similar. So the less you know you think about yourself or your kids, the less stressed your body is, the more healthy it’s going to stay. So if we can give animals and environment where a healthy cat can come into a shelter and be safely contained, um, you know so that the shelter can do what it needs to do. But it has some options and some versatility that, you know, depending on the number of animals that you’ve got, we can kind of reduce that stress and give them a very enriched and challenging and different environment. It just will enhance the life of that animal, which is, you know, at the heart of what we’re trying to do, kind of as a community when we rescue and help animals. So it’s been kind of a blessing toe have this background and understand because it’s easy when we get into our everyday life to forget that. Oh, yeah, Stress does have a gigantic impact on, um, on us. And the same goes for these these sweet little creatures that can’t even really let us know that they’re stressed. We need t kind of fix that on the front end and set them up for success instead of pulling them out of kind of a failure state, which is much harder to do. It’s much more costly. Um, so if we we can get this message to and that’s kind of our goal is to to reach out to this community and let them know, you know, Are we Are we a business? And we’re trying to feed our family? Absolutely. But I’m I’m not wanting to sell you a cage. I’m wanting to educate you on the ways that we are. We can help. And we also with love to just listen and find other ways that we can really support these people who are, in the end doing, you know, some of the most incredible but the most difficult work on the planet. And, um, give them kind of the tools that they need to do that. Um, successfully. Yeah. No, I really love your passion for that because, you know, I mean, the animals are going to be in shelters, right? And having having a versatile environment, that to the best of our ability anyway, to try and enrich them while they are in shelter. Shelter stress is a real big problem. And as you said, if they become stressed, er unhealthy or other things, that makes him harder to get adopted out. So it’s really interesting just the listen to you talk about how this is just one component of how they can run a good shelter and do the best. They can’t enrich the animals while they’re still being contained, because they have to be contained right for their own safety. And just for the kind of the the business of running. You know, a shelter, of course. But you know, if you look at what’s out there in terms of suggestions and recommendations for, um, for healthy pet places like Maddie’s Fund, this association of shelter veterinarians, people who are very knowledgeable are setting forth ease guidelines where they’re recommending, you know, different, a different area a separate area for for your for the litter box in a separate area for their food and their their suggesting things like open air and the more natural air, Um, and the and weren’t natural light, which does some natural disinfecting on its own. So all of those are possible with, um, with our enclosures because we we can do the majority of them are, uh, wire panels so that they’re open air so we can let the cats or the spam ALS what my family calls small mammals. Mammals can ask us mammals So all these three small mammals that you know when people come in, they want to know the personality. And it’s not always feasible for a rescue grouped or a shelter toe. Have some great room. And the the time to find a staff member to get, you know, to get a Spamalot out of their enclosure and then find inappropriate area where the human content to know the animals. So what if we could kind of circumvent some of that and let that happen naturally and what we’ve seen with a couple of you know, we’ve worked with with rescue groups that the previous owners worked with many, many rescue groups. So what we’ve seen is that exposure really naturally. Um, it takes a lot of work off of this the shelter, um, staff, because people can go up and get a really good ideas. One of the one of my favorite rescue groups we work with puts a huge cage bank in their very front lobby, Um, so that people can come in and immediately see these cats that are in a spacious and, um, light and airy environment, so they don’t look scared. They’re not hiding in a dark corner of a cage where someone’s tapping on the glass. They are able to, you know, to talk to these these animals and even, you know, use that sort of environment. For we’ve, um we’ve heard about groups working with that sort of environment for fund raising. Um, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Mike Arms, who, um runs the Helen Woodward Animal Center, and they’re just a huge group doing a lot of innovative work. And I saw him at a conference and they used a ton of our enclosures, and what he does is on the front panel, but these front wire panels. He will put a little acrylic. It’s a little box and you’ve seen these. They’re there. It’s a little box that you can lock it, but it’s got a little slot in the top. And for people who come in like I used to do when I was in graduate school and just, like, roam the halls of the animal shelter during lunch, he would put a little sign on there that says a dollar a day or a dollar will feed me for a day. And so for that one little unit in maybe a nine bank or a nine unit cage bank, he’s got one of those on every unit. So maybe somebody who comes in who maybe isn’t able to take a an animal home that day, but they want to contribute. They want to participate in here. They’re standing in front of an animal that’s talking to them, and they can. They can hear this cat yowling at them and they form a connection. They can let their child put a dollar in that little box. Um, so you know, and they’ve seen cages pay for themselves just by that natural interaction and then giving, giving individuals a way to connect and participate in helping to save that animal. So it’s, you know, are we use a very high quality product. So are our cages are not inexpensive? Um, you know, compared to these giant stainless steel kind of containment quarantine cages, they’re very reasonable. But if, um, you know, if you’re an individual just going into, ah, cut shop to buy some sort of little enclosure, Um, you know, ours Ahron investment, But that is one way to kind of combat that investment. And, um, you know what I like to tell people about kind of our price? Point is, we use the highest quality product in hand, make our our product so that the people who are using our cages Onley shop for cages once because we understand that the rial work they want to be doing is not sitting on a computer. Looking through all the options that we can provide them, we want them to be able to be interacting and saving those animals. So if we can give them a cage that will last for 2025 years and you know, our business has been in business long enough that we we see that we see shelters that are calling me after 25 years of having their, you know, nine unit bank, and they need to replacement bolts so that that us is a really important work. So we want to do it right the first time and do it in a way that it’s gonna be easy to use. It’s gonna be user friendly, not only for these these animals, like we’ve talked about, but for the special people who were in that building dealing with this product every day. You want a latch that works. You want a product where you can take a nen tire front off, um, or an entire back off and clean it if there’s been, like some sort of crazy explosion or whatever the case may be in in in my mind, they also want to be working with a company that is family oriented and that they can call and say, Hey, we’ve got a problem with our entire side panel of this huge bank we bought and the answer shouldn’t be Well, then let me sell you a new cage. The answer should be well. Let me get you a replacement panel or let’s troubleshoot this portion and see what we can get done to get you back into business is quickly as possible. So that’s kind of another unique, um, facet of of our cages is that they’re in panels. They’re easy to put together. So again, user friendly. But they’re they’re all all the panels or individual. So if you’ve got a problem, we’re able to get in there and help you out. Because for us, service is key. We want to serve the people who were actually doing the rial service. Um, and this is the way we’ve kind of I found out how to do that. Yeah. No, that all sounds great. And I can definitely hear your passion for animals and for taking care of the people as well that they’re taking care of the animals. What’s the best way for people to get in contact with you guys and to learn more? Well, we, uh, we have a website where you can order online and all of my email email is probably the best way to get a hold of me, because I, you know, I could be out in the shop. I visit shelters, but email I’m always able to respond fairly quickly. Um, we also are phone numbers on there. We’ve got social media. We’ve got a Facebook page, an instagram page, but the I think the most important thing is just reach out. Just get onto our website, take a look around, but don’t hesitate it all, too. Ask me. Questions were more importantly, Give me some suggestions. If there’s something that that your you know, interested in in or a certain size that’s the other great thing were able to completely customize to, um whatever the group were working with needs. So if it’s if it’s a space if you, um you know, you’ve only got vertical space, but nothing coming out, um horizontally we can custom fit whatever you need in our our door. Our proverbial door is always open. Yet the email inbox to listen. Teoh, what you need and see if we can make that happen. Very cool. Well, sure, this has been great. And I’m so glad you came on today because you taught me a lot about things that I didn’t know. Is there anything else you wanted to mention before we wrap things up? I don’t I don’t think so. Other than just giving a really sincere thank you to this, um, this community that we have sort of happenstance has brought us into. Um and we’re just in awe of the work that that is being done in. And so we’re just very appreciative and just honored to play a small part in in this fantastic work that’s being done by this community. Definitely. I agree with you there. Well, thank you, sir, for coming on. It’s been great to talk to you. It has been fabulous. Thanks for the opportunity, Chris. Thanks for tuning into today’s podcast. If you’re not already a member during the air p A. To take advantage of all the resources we have to offer and don’t forget to sign up with do bert dot com. It’s free and helps automate the most difficult tasks in animal rescue.

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