They Just Need A Ride
Valencia County Animal Control in New Mexico has an awesome new tool: a $25,000 cargo van that makes it much easier to transfer animals – and thus save more lives. And their popular Facebook presence is making sure the shelter’s efforts are front and center in the community.
With the help of the Carroll Petrie Foundation and the ASPCA, shelters like Valencia County are revving their lifesaving efforts into high gear.
The Petrie fund, which focuses on helping shelters transfer animals to places where they’re more easily adopted, has kicked off the New Year in high style: By the second week of 2013, 7,204 dogs and puppies have been saved via transfer to partner shelters.
Through the Petrie fund there are 16,600 subsidies available to source shelters, which translates to $50 per dog or puppy for each animal transferred out via rescue groups, other shelters, adoptions through Adoption Ambassadors or adoptions from permanent off-site partner locations.
At Valencia County AC in Los Lunas, director Erik Tanner first became interested in the Petrie Fund after attending an animal relocation conference in Santa Fe in late 2011. “I saw the need to expand our transfer program and showed my boss at the time how much it actually saved the shelter financially,” Tanner recalls. “I understood from a financial and moral point that animal transfers needed to become a core part of our shelter’s operations.”
He asked for – and received – $25,000 to purchase a cargo van “as a way to maximize animal transfers and increase our live exits.” Before the van, volunteers would use their own vehicles, or Tanner’s assistant, Patty Mugan, would use hers. “It was frustrating to know that the trip had been set up and funded, but animals who could have gone were left behind because the space available was too small,” Tanner says.
And while the Petrie grant didn’t pay for the van, it does fund the van’s operation. “We only had enough money for maybe six transports a year and I had used it all quickly,” adds Tanner. “Now we can do them as often as we can. We got the van on December 25 and have made three transports and have another planned for January 16. They wouldn’t be happening if the Petrie money weren’t available. We would have had the equipment, plan and desire, but no way to do anything about it.”
On the day the van arrived, 92 animals were transferred comfortably. “It’s made a huge difference in our ability to relocate animals,” he says. “We’ve had it only three weeks and it has already moved almost 200 animals.”
To make a transfer program work as efficiently as possible, it’s also important to have a highly functioning foster program, Tanner says. “A trusted volunteer of ours maintains and inspects all of our foster homes. Committing an animal to rescue and having him sit in a kennel that another animal needs won’t do much for live exit rates … Fosters also need to know that they are not bringing a potential disease into their home, and our vaccination and sanitation practices are taken seriously. The source shelters won’t give a second look to you if you regularly send them illness.”
Along with the Petrie Fund boost, the Volunteers of the Valencia County Animal Shelter’s happening Facebook presence has continued to grow. Volunteers and Mugan maintained it at first, but now volunteers handle it almost exclusively.
Tanner advises that it’s crucial to pick the right volunteers and explain to them very clearly about your shelter’s goals and mission before letting them loose on Facebook. “Negative exposure can do a lot more damage than positive exposure does good,” he points out. “That being said, having faith in your trusted volunteers is important. If I’m trusting them with a task, then I have to trust them.”
More lives saved, more supporters in the community, brighter prospects for the shelter and the furry little beings it serves – everybody wins!
– Elizabeth Kim, ASPCA Director, Online Content
Wanna read more relocation success stories? A small Kentucky shelter saved the lives of 195 dogs in October 2012 through transports to rescue partners – an increase of more than 150 over the same month a year earlier. The following month, despite being down a driver, the shelter had an increase of close to 200 lives saved over the preceding year’s same period. Read the full article here.