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Andrea Arden on Animal Haven

When you first meet Andrea Arden, pet expert, dog trainer, and the star of Animal Planet’s Underdog to Wonderdog, a show about helping shelter dogs overcome neglect and mistreatment, and how shelter animals give back to the families who rescue them, you get the sense that she is incredibly grateful to have animals in her life. As a dog trainer, she believes it is her mission to help animals. Andrea also serves on the board at Animal Haven Shelter in New York City. Pet News and Views (PNAV) interviewed Andrea about the influence animals have on her life and her work at Animal Haven.

Andrea Arden with Nora, one of her rescues.

PNAV: Why did you become a trainer?
Andrea: My father was incredibly passionate about animals, in fact he called one of our dogs his number one son. Being a business owner, he was super busy. The time we shared usually involved walking the dogs, or playing with the goat or pigs. Teaching others about animals and animal care brings me incredible joy. It’s also a continuing reminder of the time with my father.

PNAV: I know you are on Animal Haven’s Board of Directors. What do you do there?
Andrea: I help support the overall mission of Animal Haven Shelter in any way I can. This includes increasing awareness through the media and events, fundraising, assisting with behavior assessments, training, and yes, cleaning up. There is nothing like trying to clean a litter box with five little kittens crawling all over you. Each time you scoop something out, they pounce in to be sure to give you something else to clean.

PNAV: Why did you pick Animal Haven to volunteer your time?
Andrea: I chose to work with Animal Haven Shelter because I liked that it was small enough to feel like a family, but large enough in regards to the many volunteers who provide a wonderful support network. We have amazing, dedicated people working with us and wonderful volunteers. Every person makes a difference in the lives of the animals in our care, and we all realize we make a greater difference in more animals’ lives working as a team.

PNAV: What makes Animal Haven one of the more successful shelters?
Andrea: Animal Haven’s success lies in its welcoming atmosphere. Animal Haven attracts more of the general public to choose adoption over purchasing a pet. In addition, Animal Haven is located in a high-traffic area. These two elements work well together to offer another option to potential new dogs or cat parents.

Also, Animal Haven follows up with training and an open door policy on advice and help to all of our adopters. In essence, Animal Haven is building a community of pet families. Of course a love of animals is at the core of any successful rescue effort. But, it also comes down to having a dedicated, educated team.

They also have to like another species of animals other than dogs and cats…people! After all, they are the ones we are counting on to adopt and to help support the rescue efforts. Being good time managers and being able to stay focused on the positive is also vital. Working in rescue is incredibly rewarding emotionally, but it can also be draining to deal with the daily reminders of how many people don’t treat animals well. People involved with rescue have to be able to develop mechanisms to cope with this so as to stay focused on the mission. There is often a massive effort involved in saving the life of one animal (round the clock care for elderly or newborn dogs or cats, costly veterinary expenses, etc.) so rescue staff and volunteers need to reserve their energy as best they can for what is important…focusing on their part in helping the animals to thrive and find homes. And that is something everyone at Animal Haven does very well.

PNAV: Any up coming special events?
Andrea: I am incredibly proud of our Caring Kids Program run by Kendra Mara. It introduces kids and teens ages 4-17 to the basics of animal care and issues related to animal welfare. They help bathe the animals, clean up, teach basic manners, and create adoption signs for each animal. Plus, when they sit outside with dogs (supervised by adults, of course) and chat with people passing by about why they should adopt and/or donate, we couldn’t ask for better ambassadors!

Volunteers at Animal Haven's Caring Kids program give a fur friend a bath.

On Saturday, September 18 from 2 to 4 p.m., the Caring Kids will take over the shelter. The public is invited to come by and see our adoptable pets and also watch as the kids run the show.

PNAV: Tell us about your pets.
Andrea: I currently have ‘just’ two dogs, as one of my rescue Dobies passed away last year. I have a little terrier mix named Nora and a Doberman Pinscher named Moka.

PNAV: Any other comments?
Andrea: I wish I could convince every celebrity who is featured in magazines like Us, OK, Star, etc. to choose the adoption option. We are such a celebrity driven culture that I think this would play a major role in furthering public awareness about the many benefits of adopting. I also wish I could encourage parents to enroll their children in a program like Caring Kids at Animal Haven Shelter. Early education about animal welfare is vital to bettering the lives of animals in the future.

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