An­i­mal Wel­fare League gives quar­terly up­date

The Kent Island Bay Times - - NEWS - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­

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

Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @mike_k­ibay­times.


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.

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