Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter Partners with ASPCA to Help Behaviorally Challenged Shelter Animals

Interactive ASPCA Virtual Learning Lab provides innovative techniques and best practices to support homeless cats and dogs nationwide
April 16, 2021

BOZEMAN, MT Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter (HOV) today announces its participation in the ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) Virtual Learning Lab, a new interactive, online workshop series that helps shelters better serve homeless animals’ behavioral needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The Virtual Learning Lab is a free, three-month-long program where select shelters work alongside experts from the ASPCA and other organizations to develop a plan to better support the behavioral health of animals in their care.

The ASPCA previously held their Leaning Lab program in person at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center (BRC) in Weaverville, N.C. in the form of week-long retreats, but the in-person program was put on pause over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to continue sharing essential behavior resources with animal welfare organizations across the country, the Virtual Learning Lab is an adaptation of that in-person program.

In the Virtual Learning Lab, a team of shelter professionals from HOV worked alongside ASPCA behavior experts to discuss effective protocols and best practices to help prepare animals for adoption. HOV will be integrating key learnings and strategies to further integrate behavioral and psychological support for homeless animals into their entire sheltering operation in order to save more lives.

“We were thrilled to be selected to partner with the ASPCA’s Virtual Learning Lab,” said Marla Caulk, Executive Director of Heart of the Valley. “It has been a tremendous opportunity to explore ways to strengthen our behavior program and collaborate with colleagues from the ASPCA and other animal welfare organizations across the country. Through this work, we’ve been able to create an aspirational goal to help improve the animals’ experience while in our shelter.”   

“Heart of the Valley’s team is highly skilled and innovative. The ASPCA is thrilled to welcome them to the Learning Lab program and its vibrant network of shelter partners,” said Dr. Kat Miller, Senior Director of the ASPCA Learning Lab program. “We look forward to continuing our collaborative relationship with Heart of the Valley to further elevate behavioral healthcare in animal shelters and get even more pets into loving homes."

The ASPCA Learning Lab launched in 2018 at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, the first-ever permanent facility dedicated to the rehabilitation and study of extremely fearful, homeless dogs, many of whom are victims of cruelty or neglect and otherwise would not have been candidates for adoption. As the Learning Lab program has evolved, they have developed eLearning resources to reach even more shelter professionals, and continue to develop a national network of partner organizations that share learnings and best practices and serve as advanced behavioral healthcare hubs in their communities.