Washington Humane Society Guarantees Good Home for Every Adoptable Dog
By Howard Nelson, Executive Director, Washington Humane Society
May 11, 2006, 09:48
Society Calls on Local Residents to Help Find Good Homes for Dogs/Cats
Washington, D.C. - One of the dogs who enters Washington Humane Society on Friday, May 12, will be a very fortunate dog. He or she will be declared the Washington Humane Society's first Good Home Guarantee dog and will be promised a good adoptive home. The society will make the same promise for every adoptable dog who enters the shelter from that point on.
This milestone represents an important step in the Washington Humane Society's Good Home Guarantee, a five-year plan to reach a 100% placement rate for dogs and cats suitable for life in a home by 2010. The plan was announced in December 2005. On May 12, during Be Kind to Animals Week, the Washington Humane Society will make good on this promise for dogs.
To bring this about, the Washington Humane Society implemented a number of measures. It expanded its cadre of foster care volunteers so that dogs who do not get adopted at the shelter have a "fall-back" plan for adoption through a private home. It outfitted a donated RV to serve as the mobile adoption center that is currently bringing dogs and cats into the community for special, weekly adoption events. And it has arranged new publicity venues for its animals, most notably in recent months Comcast's new On Demand service which features animals for adoption among its community resources.
The result has been encouraging. The Washington Humane Society is confident that, beginning Friday, no dog will be euthanized at its shelters because of lack of space or lack of interested adopters even as the society maintains its policy of never turning an animal away.
"I find this milestone extremely gratifying," says Howard Nelson, the Executive Director of the Washington Humane Society. "It represents real, measurable progress towards our goal. Our hard work on the Good Home Guarantee is paying off, but in my mind, it's just the beginning. We are going to press forward until every aspect of the Good Home Guarantee is as successful as our dog adoption program is. We want the community to know that we are absolutely serious about the Good Home Guarantee, and we are counting on its support to reach a 100% placement rate for adoptable animals."
The Washington Humane Society emphasizes that community support is critically needed in terms of financial donations, volunteer help, and adoptive homes. Information on assisting with the Good Home Guarantee can be found on the society's website, www.washhumane.org.
For dogs, the society's Good Home Guarantee efforts will now focus on helping those with behavioral or medical problems that stand in the way of adoption. To that end, the Washington Humane Society is enhancing and expanding an in-shelter behavior evaluation and training program to teach under-socialized dogs basic obedience, and it is actively growing the Sophie's Fund, which treats animals with illnesses and injuries.
In addition to increasing adoptions, the plan to reach 100% placement of cats relies heavily on spaying and neutering since the shelter still struggles with a staggering number of homeless and abandoned cats. The Washington Humane Society low-cost Spay/Neuter Clinic opened on a part-time basis in February and will be operating full-time by the end of June. The clinic hopes to be doing two cat surgeries for every dog surgery.
The Washington Humane Society's longer term spay/neuter goal is to take the lead in opening a high-volume, low-cost sterilization clinic to serve the metropolitan Washington region, including suburban Maryland and Virginia. This project is in the planning stages. The society has partnered with the Humane Alliance of North Carolina to replicate their highly successful model in this locale and is currently searching for a site where the new regional clinic can be located.
Finally, the Washington Humane Society is promoting responsible pet ownership with an eye towards assisting people with the resources they need before they reach the point that they decide to relinquish their animals.
The Washington Humane Society currently operates two shelters, a private shelter at 7319 Georgia Avenue, NW, and the city's D.C. Animal Shelter at 1201 New York Avenue, NE (under a contract with the D.C. Department of Health). Both of these are open access shelters (no animal is ever turned away) and they are the only open access shelters in the District of Columbia. Between them, they handle approximately 12,000 animals a year, about 95% of all the homeless, abandoned, and abused animals in the District of Columbia.
As the oldest animal protection group in Washington, the Washington Humane Society has enforced the District's anti-cruelty laws since 1870. It was also selected to enforce the District's animal control laws under a contract with the D.C. government. The Washington Humane Society's low-cost spay/neuter program processes the majority of all the spay/neuter surgeries that happen in the District of Columbia, and its adoption program places more animals in homes than any other group in Washington. Aside from its law enforcement and sheltering work, the society provides humane education in the D.C. public schools, teaching children to respect all living beings and take action for animals who need help.