When I spoke to NBC 12 Special Projects Producer Jennifer Warnick two weeks ago about featuring the Richmond SPCA’s animal behavior experts on Call 12, it was a “Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?” moment. Following the experience of fielding 55 pet behavior calls in the span of 90 minutes on Wednesday evening, I think the five behavior and training experts who staffed the Call 12 lines all agree that it was a perfect match.
Calls came through the Call 12 lines non-stop from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and questions covered a wide range of pet behavior issues. Callers asked about topics including cats who aren’t using the litter box, pets with anxiety, dogs and puppies who’ve chewed their owners’ possessions, fearful pets, dogs nipping at children, destructive behavior and more. The common thread is that many people love their pets dearly but just need some guidance in order to work on problems as they arise.
Sarah Babcock, Richmond SPCA chief of education and training, said, “Lots of callers seem to have tried to address problems before calling us, but many had been given outdated or downright odd training advice. All were VERY grateful for our help and happy to get the behavior helpline phone number and email so that they could contact us again in the future!”
Many callers who spoke with trainers through Call 12 asked for follow-up calls to continue developing a training plan for their pets, and our staff will likely schedule in-person consults for a few. We provide the Behavior Helpline at no charge and only suggest a $20 donation for one-on-one consultations with our trainers because we want to help guardians develop better relationships with their pets.
Behaviorist Marie Tripton often responds to helpline calls and emails from people who are already in dire straits over a pet issue, and this is something she hopes will change. “I’d like people to think of us as the organization who would like to help you love your pet. You don’t have to wait until your pet actually bites someone, you can contact us if your dog is barking when the doorbell rings or hard to walk on leash, or if your cat starts hiding from visitors.”
Whether they were giving general guidance on the basics of pet behavior or sharing ideas to address specific unwanted behaviors, the trainers who volunteered at Call 12 said the experience of providing advice and resources to NBC 12 viewers was both fun and rewarding.
Tabitha Hanes is the director of communications at the Richmond SPCA. To read the biographies of our regular bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires a first and last name to be used as your screen name.