Cassie Marischen, Manager of the MSPCA Animal Adoption Center
June 1, 2011

1. Can you describe what you do as shelter manager?

My day usually begins with walking the dogs and/or cleaning kennels, then a staff meeting about animal updates.  From there is a mixture of caring for cats and small animals, returning phone calls and emails, administrative tasks such as ordering supplies and managing money, making sure our building isn’t falling down, assisting with a variety of programs, developing new ones, and more.  The day never ends. There’s always something to do, which is one of the main reasons I love it.
2. How many animals come through your shelter?

Every year, we care for over 1,200 animals at the Cape Cod Adoption Center.  This is mainly made up of cats, kittens and dogs, but we also take in rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, hamsters and other small furries, birds, chickens, as well as the occasional reptile.  The most interesting animal we’ve taken in recently was a group of fish.
3. What challenges are unique to sheltering at your location on Cape Cod?

Our main challenge is that our adoption center was built 50 years ago and has had few renovations since, so there’s always something that needs to be repaired.  There is no central air conditioning, so in the summertime, it’s a struggle to make sure all of the animals are comfortable.  However, one unique quality about being on Cape Cod is during the summertime, we receive a lot of visitors.  Although most families come in to visit with the animals, not to adopt, this still gives our animals and adoption center lots of exposure.  Our adoption center is also located along a main highway, which makes us very accessible and visible to the public.
4. Can you tell me something about the history of the Cape Cod shelter?

The MSPCA first opened an animal shelter on Cape Cod in 1935, and the current building was built in the late 1960’s.  The building is relatively small, but thanks to generous donors, we’ve had some additions, including a large fenced-in dog park, individual outdoor kennels for the dogs, and a surgery suite where local veterinarians perform spay/neuter surgeries for us.
5. Is your shelter involved with community outreach or with other animal organizations on Cape Cod?

We have been constantly organizing new programs to increase adoptions and help pet owners on Cape Cod.  One of these new programs is a low-cost spay/neuter program for low-income owners of cats.  We also hold an off site adoption day at a local feed and grain store to highlight adoptable animals.  In addition, we attend many local events to promote the MSPCA and showcase animals.  Our two main fundraising events for the adoption center are the Furry Affair, which is a silent auction and dinner held in May, and the Walk for Animals in September.
6. How has your shelter been affected by the economy?

Unfortunately, some staffing positions had to be reduced due to the downturn in the economy.  However, thanks to our committed and hardworking volunteers, staff, and donors, we are able to continue providing excellent care to our animals and important programs to the community.
7. How do you handle spays, neuters, and shelter medical issues?

We unfortunately do not have a veterinarian or vet tech on staff.  However, we have developed close relationships with local veterinarians, who have helped us so much in so many different ways.  We can’t thank them enough!  These local vets perform medical exams, surgeries and more for our animals.  Thanks to their dedication to helping homeless animals, every animal is examined by a vet and spayed/neutered before they go home.
8. Can you tell us about the success of your first low-cost spay/neuter clinic?

We first began our low-cost spay/neuter clinics for cats in February for low-income owners.  In our first clinic, 25 cats received surgery.  We have held clinics once a month since, each one growing in the number of cats and owners we are helping.  Again, a big thank-you to our local veterinarians who have volunteered their time to help in this great cause.
9. How long have you been involved with animal welfare?

I have always loved animals, but I am relatively new to the animal welfare community.  I began working at the MSPCA Boston Adoption Center after college as an animal caregiver and adoption counselor.  I then worked at the Lowell Humane Society in a similar role.  I started at the Cape Adoption Center over a year ago as the Animal Care Supervisor and recently became the manager.  Each day my passion in this field grows, especially regarding advocating spay/neuter and pit bull adoptions.
10. There are many jobs working with animals that would be less stressful. What brings you to work each day?

This thought has crossed my mind several times over the years working in shelters.  Trying to stay positive and not letting the bad days get me down sometimes is tough.  But what keeps me going day after day is the thought that I can make a difference in at least one animal’s life.  I believe that as long as we’re constantly trying to improve the lives of the animals in our care and in the community, we are doing our part until we reach the day where there are no bad days anymore.
11. Do you have any pets at home?

I own two and a half cats … all “foster failures”.  I adopted my first cat Freemont while working at Lowell… After 6 weeks of foster, he refused to go home with anyone else (and has since eaten his way to a hefty 21 pounds).  My cat Missy I adopted from the Boston MSPCA.  She is a sweet girl with an attitude and a condition called Cerrebellar Hypoplasia (she wobbles when she walks, but that doesn’t stop her from going up and down stairs and climbing up on the table).  Then, there’s Emma, a kitten from the Cape shelter who I fostered because she had a history of peeing outside the litterbox … and after a few weeks and no ruined carpets, my roommate wouldn’t let me bring her back.

12. If all the animals found homes, what else could you see yourself doing?

I would probably do something else with animals … maybe work at a wildlife sanctuary or run a pet-friendly business.