The Screen Team: Led by Gordon Earl Robinson, this intrepid group of seven Dog Pet Pals ensures that the Stray, Owner Surrender and Humane Case dogs hit the ground running as soon as they legally belong to Marin Humane. This team works seven days a week to ensure that each dog is visited, walked and prepared to enter the behavior evaluation system within 24 hours. The Screen Team identifies which dogs can be walked by Extra Care Dog Pet Pals and which equipment is most appropriate for that dog. The equipment is then fitted and labeled. Additionally, the team identifies which animals need early intervention for behavior modification. Safety, speed and accuracy are the names of the Screen Team game!

The Screen Team consists of Francy Blackwood, Emily Goodman, Dawn Kovell, Rachel Pound, Helen Riggs, Gordon Robinson, Vivienne Ruggiero, Karen Schuerholz, and Elfi Weideli.

The B Team: Laughingly called The B (for Behavior) Team because they aren’t The A Team (movie reference, not ability!) the B team meets weekly and works daily to identify dogs with behavior issues who need some assistance moving successfully through our placement process. Each dog gets a Case Manager who then creates a behavior modification plan, solicits and organizes resources and ensures that the dog has additional support for a successful placement. The B Team is an interdepartmental effort between Behavior & Training and Animal Care.

Members of the B Team are Kathleen Call, Kyle Dunlop, Emily Goodman, Dawn Kovell, Gordon Robinson, Karen Schuerholz and Sam Winegarner

Here’s an example of how the B Team works: The Perfect Storm

Storm, an Australian Shepherd, was surrendered by an out of county breeder. At two years old, she was returned to the breeder because of reported aggression toward people. She was clearly fearful in the shelter environment and was too unstable to even be weighed when she first arrived.

When Screen Team members approached her run she barked and lunged. However, with the first act of kindness, a piece of string cheese, she immediately showed another side. Storm became soft and friendly and eager to have the person with the cheese enter her run. She turned out to be easy to handle and harness but outside the run she was clearly nervous, reacting to sounds and sudden movements. She would still bark and lunge at strangers.

Dawn stepped in and offered a behavior modification protocol developed by Leslie McDevitt, called the “Look at That!” game. This game takes an undesirable behavior and turns it into a rewardable game. The game is designed to change the dog’s underlying feelings about the object/s of her fear. The protocol works particularly well for insecure herding breeds with high food drive.

A specially-trained team of Pet Pals called the Storm Walkers was organized by Kathleen to implement the behavior protocol. They assiduously worked with Storm’s “stranger danger” issues. Storm (now Zephyr) was adopted by Aussie experienced friends of Evaluator/Screen Team member Vivienne Ruggiero. As a final test of the protocol, Storm was in the busy adoption lobby and Animal Outfitters during the final adoption administrative process surrounded by strangers but focused on her new family!