Animal Welfare League gives quarterly update
QUEENSTOWN — Progressive sheltering techniques, support from the county commissioners and the community, and a dedicated core of staff and volunteers are all factors in the success of Animal Welfare League of Queen Anne’s County, Executive Director Suzanne Hogan told the county commissioners Tuesday, June 13.
During a quarterly update to the commission, Hogan reviewed the nonprofit organization’s finances, adoption numbers and various programs initiated to help the sheltered animals find a forever home.
Month after month, Hogan said, the county’s only open-admission shelter has broken adoption records for both dogs and cats. Through a progressive sheltering system, AWL works hard in not just finding their fury friends a home, but to a family with matching personality and lifestyle characteristics.
Using an personal interview rather than just filling out a paper and completing a home visit, staff takes time learning about the adopter’s household activity level, family structure, prior experiences with animals and other relevant information in attempting to find the right match for both the person and animal. That information matched with the animal’s behavioral evaluation has aided in the shelter’s adoption numbers, she said.
Added to all the evaluations, AWL staff has implemented daily enrichment activities for the animals to keep healthy and happy while a resident.
Hogan said the live release rate for AWL the past three years is 98 percent for dogs and 93 percent for cats.
AWL has operated under a memorandum of understanding with the county since it opened its doors in 2013, with the most recent MOU being signed last December. Since opening, Hogan said the shelter has taken in 1,489 dogs, 2,570 cats and 177 other animals, including rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, rats, chinchillas and pigs.
Of the dogs taken in, 28 percent were owner surrendered, 25 percent were strays brought in by Animal Control, and 21 percent were strays brought in by community residents. Of the cats taken in, 48 percent were strays brought in by community residents, 25 percent were surrendered by the owner, and 17 percent were strays brought in by Animal Control.
“While the overall numbers of animals coming into the shelter can certainly be sobering ... each of our animals is a fur baby just waiting for a new forever family,” Hogan said. “So while their intake stories can be very heartbreaking at times, the adoption stories are joy and happiness.”
Due to the shelter’s recent track record, Hogan said the AWL board of directors considered becoming an emergency placement partner, “so that we could pull fully vetted and behaviorally evaluated dogs at our disaster ravaged areas.”
After tornados damaged regions of Louisiana, the local AWL teamed up with the Humane Society of the United States and took in 20 dogs that had been impacted. Hogan said within the first two weeks 13 of the dogs had been adopted.
Following a trend of helping areas in need, AWL took in 33 dogs from a Korean meat farm after Humane Society International reached out to the organization. Of the 33 dogs, 20 were adopted within the first two weeks, Hogan said. She said all but one Emergency Placement Partner dogs had found a home.
Though the shelter specializes in finding forever homes for its residents, AWL also provides information and services to residents. The shelter councils owners on strategies to address challenging pet behaviors, provide a pet food pantry, register county animals as well as microchip them, and works with Animal Control to provide redemption services.
For the first year, AWL hosted a Community Pet Day in Grasonville where staff helped more than 174 pet owners with various animal questions and services. A second Community Pet Day will be held in Sudlersville in the fall, though a date has yet to be determined.
With all the success AWL has had the past three years, Hogan said it wouldn’t be possible without the 167 volunteers who average 350 hours of time a month. From walking dogs to cleaning, supporting animal enrichment activities and front desk work, Hogan said the shelter is “extremely fortunate” to have such a dedicated group.
Hogan said during the next update she hopes to dive further into progressive sheltering techniques, AWL’s approach to shelter medicine, the nonprofit’s outreach initiatives and its 10-year strategic vision.
“Each and every day we are truly humbled by the outpouring of support that our community gives to our animals,” Hogan said. “It makes all the difference to all the furry ones we take care of and for those of us who do the caring for them, to know that our community cares and is committed to helping us do right by our shelter animals.”
For more information about AWL, visit its website at www.awlqac.org.
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Suzanne Hogan, executive director of Animal Welfare League of Queen Anne’s County, provided the county commissioners with an update about the county’s only open-admission shelter during its Tuesday, June 13, meeting in Centreville.