Individualized Care for Salem Pets

Each pet at Oregon Humane Society has a unique story and background. Sometimes we get lucky and have insight into parts of their history, but often we don’t know anything at all. In these situations, experienced Training & Behavior staff are critical in developing individualized care plans for pets to set them up for lifelong success.

Checkers Gets Support

Pictured here is Checkers, an exuberant 11-month-old currently at OHS Salem Campus, who’s practicing impulse control with help from Skylar, one of our expert trainers.

Shortly after arriving at OHS Salem Campus, young Checkers became overexcited during a walk and nipped a staff person’s arm. After that incident, Skylar and the animal care team assessed his behavior and developed a plan to help him redirect his energy in positive ways moving forward, which includes enrichment training to learn cues like, “sit,” “stay,” and “wait.”

Checkers will need an adopter committed to ongoing training, but Skylar thinks he’ll make a great family pet. Checkers is an excellent learner because he is treat-motivated. He is also friendly with other dogs and people.

Most animal behavior can be adjusted just by anticipating a pet’s reactions and practicing distraction techniques around stimuli. Checkers, for example, becomes really amped up when he is first taken out for a walk. If given the chance to run around and get out his energy, he is much more responsive to training cues.

But some animals need more time before they are ready for adoption. That’s when the training and behavior experts at OHS Salem will meet to determine the best path forward for a pet. In some cases, that means being transferred to the Behavior & Rescue Center (BRC) in Portland to work in an in-depth program called Behavior Modification. No matter the course, Skyler and the rest of the Salem team are there to provide thoughtful care.

Meet Skylar

Skylar Morelos, OHS Salem's Skills Trainer, posing for the camera

This is Skyler Morelos, Skills Trainer & Coordinator at OHS Salem Campus. For Skylar, interpreting body language is the first lesson he teaches staff and volunteers. His role is to coach staff across all departments at our Salem location on best practices for handling shelter animals safely and confidently. 

Skyler’s journey in animal welfare began nearly ten years ago. He assisted in a variety of roles, including animal intake, animal care, and pet adoptions. But he noticed something — dogs who struggled in the shelter environment because of their fear or endless energy were not getting the training they needed to reach their full potential.

Skylar started volunteering at night by taking these dogs to training courses. With one-on-one attention and consistent dedication, he saw them begin to change. Eventually, he moved into a role as trainer, leading classes for dogs and their adopters. As a trainer, he was able to see animals grow and develop new skills.

By the time Skyler came to OHS Salem Campus in 2020, he brought with him a wide pool of knowledge he’d attained in his prior roles. Now, he is passionate about helping staff navigate tough moments with a shelter pet. He works across the entire Salem shelter helping staff in animal care, customer care, and medical care.

Stronger Together

Thanks to you, shelter pets from OHS Salem and Portland campuses have access to our new Behavior & Rescue Center (BRC), where they can get extra time and training in a quiet space with dedicated staff. Take a look below to see the incredible work the BRC is already doing for these sweet pets!

Behavior & Rescue in 2023

  • 29 cats and 34 dogs have graduated from our Behavior Modification Program.
  • Animals are graduating the Behavior Modification Program 25% faster than in years past.
  • 130 kittens have come through the Behavior & Rescue Center.