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For those of you new to these materials:  What is "Animal Friendly-Customer Smart: People Skills for Animal Shelters & Rescues?" 

Simply put, it is a customer service training package.  It consists of workbook (and facilitator's guide) that specifically focuses on the types of customers and the kinds of difficult situations that we, as staff and volunteers who work for animal shelters and rescue groups, face when doing our jobs.  After teaching customer service exclusively designed for our field for over 40 years, Jan Elster has updated her materials to reflect the realities of 2024.

Why is it called a “training package?”


It is a “training package” because it contains all the materials needed in order to make your organization Customer Smart.  Jan has taken the customer service approach and honed it down to two books that will help you apply Customer Smart skills to work well with the public while lessening stress and helping the animals.


Workbook: Animal Friendly-Customer Smart: People Skills for Animal Shelters & Rescues 2024 (for staff and volunteers)


Facilitator’s Guide: Animal Friendly-Customer Smart: People Skills for Animal Shelters & Rescues: Facilitator’s Guide 2016 (lesson plans that correspond to 10 of the 12 chapters in the 2024 Workbook.)  Step by step guidance for in-house Facilitators, Department Managers, HR) 




Why did Jan create an entire training package focused on customer service for people who work with animals?


  • What we do and face on a daily basis is unique. 

  • The repertoire of skills we need to deal with both happy-endings and cruelty are not found in a typical customer service course. 

  • There are no other existing self-guided or in-house teaching materials that gdeal with customer service from the perspective of someone who works in an animal shelter, clinic or rescue group. 

So how to do we cope with joy, sorrow, and cruelty while still dealing well with the public?


The training package takes an unconventional approach to customer service called Customer Smart which: 

  • prepares you to initiate interactions that create solid and compliant customers.

  • helps you to deal with difficult people under challenging circumstances. 


The philosophy behind Customer Smart is that although THE CUSTOMER IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT, it is our job to make the interaction work for the sake of the animals.



 Wanna chat? Please contact us at info@ShelterSkills.com.

Webmail users please copy and paste info@ShelterSkills.com into your email "compose" to send us a message.

Frankie S: Found a forever home in a high rise condo.


Rita: Placed as pup and loved for 14 years


Timmy: Enjoying life in classroom 4, Peyton Elementary School


Goldie: Adopted into her forever home through the Seniors For Seniors program.


Flash: Found wandering downtown and rehomed by a rescue group


Paulette: Currently loving her life at a farm animal sanctuary.


Pebbles: Living the life with his humans and many toys.


Carmen: The victim of a puppy mill raid...she's no ordinary lap dog!