Fort Worth

Fort Worth Animal Shelter Finds Unique Way to Solve Worker Shortage

The animal shelter reached out to a homeless shelter for help

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Overwhelmed with animals and unable to hire enough workers to care for them, the Fort Worth Animal Shelter recently found a unique solution -- by reaching out to a homeless shelter.

"It literally got to the point I didn't have supervisors or managers anymore because they were having to clean cages,” animal shelter manager Brandon Bennett said.

He turned to the Presbyterian Night Shelter, which runs a nonprofit jobs program called Upspire -- short for uplifting and inspire.

"These are fulltime jobs, full benefits, that help our homeless population get out of homelessness by having employment,” shelter CEO Toby Owen said.

And it's not just for the homeless. They also hire people like ex-convicts who have a challenging time finding work.

"Bringing Presbyterian Night Shelter in and their workers has been a godsend,” Bennett said.

They've brought in 10 workers with plans to add more.

One of them is Madison Edmonds.

"I like it a lot. I mean you get to work with animals all day," Edmonds said.

She started working for Upspire about a year ago and just got promoted to supervisor making $16 an hour plus benefits at the shelter.

"I came over from waste management,” she said. “It was a bit of a switch for me. I used to work on the back of the trash trucks."

Upspire started several years ago with just two homeless people picking up litter and it has since expanded to about 100 workers in a wide variety of jobs like those at the animal shelter.

"This program is not just about cleaning kennels,” Bennett said. “It's about life success and it's good to be a part of that."

Contact Us