Lynchburg, VA

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

Lynchburg is an independent city of about 76,000 people in Virginia, located southwest of Charlottesville and east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Lynchburg Humane Society (LHS), is a non-profit that has a contract with the city of Lynchburg for animal services. LHS requires an appointment for owner surrenders and charges a small fee, but states that it will make exceptions for people who need to surrender a pet immediately or cannot pay the fee.

The shelter reported a 90% live release rate for the year 2011. LHS did not do quite as well in 2012, when it had an 87% live release rate. For 2013, LHS was back over 90%, reporting a live release rate of 92% for the year, with an intake of 1537 animals. The city of Lynchburg animal control euthanized 25 animals, and the live release rate for the community as a whole in 2013 was 90%. Performance improved in 2014, with a combined live release rate for the shelter and the city animal control of 93%.

LHS has struggled with a relatively high number of shelter deaths. They attribute this in large part to their badly outdated shelter building, which has made it difficult to control infectious diseases. If animals who died in shelter care are counted in with euthanasias, the modified live release rate for 2013 was 83%. In 2014, the modified live release rate improved 6 points, to 89%.

LHS began fundraising for a new building, but director Makena Yarbrough did not want to wait for it to be built to try to reduce shelter deaths. Last spring she consulted with epidemiologists at Cornell to find out how shelter staff could keep infection under control as much as possible in the old building. She implemented their ideas, including getting as many kittens out of the shelter as fast as possible. Yarbrough started a Kitten Warrior neonatal foster program and made it an all-hands-on-deck event. These efforts were responsible for the 6-point  increase in the modified live release rate from 2013 to 2014, as kitten and cat deaths were 65% lower.

As of this past Monday the new shelter building was completed and they are moving animals in.  The grand opening is March 21, 2015. This new shelter should substantially help Lynchburg in its continuing effort to reduce the number of shelter deaths.

Many shelters have blogs, but the LHS blog is particularly worth following because it occasionally has posts that analyze its programs from a statistical or outcomes point of view. Three posts that are worth reading for their statistical analyses are linked here:

Lynchburg is listed in the Running Totals as a 90%+ community.

Nelson County, VA

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

Nelson County, Virginia, is a rural county midway between Charlottesville and Lynchburg. The population is about 15,000.

Nelson County Animal Control (NCAC) is the municipal agency that takes in strays and owner surrenders for the county. In November 2012, a new animal control director with a background in management took over. The new director stated in a January 2013 interview that euthanasia is generally performed only on animals who are aggressive or sick.

The Humane Society/SPCA of Nelson County (HSNC) is a private agency that pulls animals from NCAC and has an adoption center. In an article about its medical fund, HSNC reported that it takes in about 1000 animals per year. HSNC also accepts owner surrenders, but only if they have space and evaluate the animal as adoptable. In addition to its adoption center, HSNC uses transports to rescues to place animals. I confirmed in a phone call to HSNC that all transfers are to No Kill organizations.  HSNC has a stated goal for the county of ensuring that “no healthy, non-aggressive animal is euthanized.”

NCAC and HSNC both report to the Virginia state database. In 2014, the combined live release rate for both NCAC and HSNC was 92% (88% if animals who died or were lost in shelter care are counted as euthanasias). This number probably understates the actual live release rate because I did not count any transfers from NCAC as live releases. The purpose of this was to avoid double counting of live releases since the majority of the transfers went to HSNC. In 2013 and 2012 the combined live release rates for NCAC and HSNC were in the 80th percentile.

Nelson County has a very high intake of dogs and cats. The combined total intake of NCAC and HSNC for 2014, not counting transfers from NCAC, was 1386, which is 92 animals for every 1000 people in the community. Average intake for the US as a whole is thought to be from 15 to 30 animals per 1000 people.

Nelson County, Virginia, is counted in the blog’s Running Totals as a 90%+ community.

Augusta County, VA

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

Augusta County, Virginia, is located in the Shenandoah Valley area west of Charlottesville. Its population was 74,000 in the 2010 census. The county contains two independent cities: Staunton (population 24,000) and Waynesboro (population 21,000). The total population of the county and the two cities is 119,000.

In 2011, the Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center (SVASC) took over animal sheltering for Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro. The shelter took in 2447 animals in 2013, the most recent year for which full statistics are currently available. Animal control officers for Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro immediately return or euthanize a few of the animals they pick up, but the great majority go to SVASC.

The Augusta Regional SPCA, located in Staunton, also takes in animals – 1337 in 2013, including 464 owner surrenders and 240 transfers.  There are several rescues in the county, including Augusta Dog Adoption, Cat’s Cradle, and the Mosby Foundation, that take animals from SVASC.

SVASC’s full statistics for 2014 are not yet available online from the state system, but the shelter recently reported to the media that its live release rate increased to 94% in 2014 from 82% in 2013. Augusta County is one of the places where it is very difficult to calculate a live release rate even with the state reports, due to multiple intake shelters and transfers among shelters.

SVASC’s current shelter is inadequate, and the three jurisdictions it serves have committed $420,000 to expand the shelter this spring. The expansion will add cage space, six isolation rooms, and separate areas to house puppies and small dogs.

Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro are counted in the Running Totals as 90%+ communities.

Rappahannock County, VA

Rappahannock County, Virginia, borders the Shenandoah mountains west of Washington, DC. It is a rural county with 7400 residents.

The county provides animal control and owns the animal shelter building, but contracts out operations to the Rappahannock Animal Welfare League (RAWL), a private non-profit. RAWL describes the arrangement as follows: “Within the delegation of responsibilities, Rappahannock County employs the animal control warden, provides and maintains an accessible kennel and office on county property, and pays RAWL a fee to operate the facility. From that point, RAWL assumes the balance of the responsibilities: staffing, management, daily care, supplies, veterinary trips, innoculations, arranging the reclaim of lost animals and coordinating adoptions.”

RAWL primarily takes in dogs. In addition to the dogs impounded by animal control, it accepts owner surrendered dogs subject to a waiting list. If the owner is a resident of Rappahannock County and cannot wait, RAWL will take in the dog immediately.

Rappahannock’s animal control, which is part of the sheriff’s department, does not pick up cats unless they are sick or injured. They treat the sick and injured cats and try to re-home them. A private rescue, RappCats, accepts owner surrendered cats subject to a waiting list when they are full. I spoke to a representative of RappCats, who told me that they have a small shelter for cats. They work with people to help keep cats in their homes or colonies.

In 2012, RAWL took in 253 dogs and had a live release rate of 96%. RappCats did not report its statistics to the state of Virginia in 2012. In 2013 both RAWL and RappCats reported to the state. The combined statistics, with intake of 371 cats and dogs, showed a live release rate of 96% for 2013. No animals were reported as having died in shelter care.

Powhatan County, VA

Powhatan County, Virginia, has about 28,000 residents and is part of the Richmond metropolitan area. Animal control and sheltering are handled by the county through a municipal office, Powhatan Animal Control, that has four employees and a small shelter. The shelter takes in strays and owner surrenders. The web site for the shelter does not mention any restrictions on owner surrenders. The animal control officers do not impound cats except for owner surrenders and injured stray cats — cats are considered free roaming.

In 2010, the county shelter took in 594 animals and had a live release rate of 83%. The live release rate rose to 96% in 2011, and remained at 96% in 2012 and 2013. Intake has been steadily falling, going from 595 animals in 2010 to 505 animals in 2011, to 437 in 2012 and 413 in 2013. The Virginia state database from which these statistics are taken does not break out owner-requested euthanasias. If the category of “died in facility” is added to euthanasias, the shelter had a 95% live release rate in both 2012 and 2013.

The shelter’s high live release rate is due in part to its participation in adoption events with Metro Richmond Pet Savers. It also transfers many of its animals to rescues, including FLAG and BARK. The shelter typically transfers over 200 animals per year to rescues.

Powhatan County, Virginia, was originally listed by this blog on May 2, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

King George County, VA

King George County is located in Virginia and has 24,000 residents. It lies between Washington, D.C. and Richmond, along the Potomac River. Animal control and sheltering is provided by a government agency, King George County Animal Control (KGCAC). A group of volunteers known as the King George Animal Rescue League (KGARL) partners with KGCAC to pull animals from the shelter.

This article from May 2012 describes how KGCAC and KGARL have used transports to help achieve their high save rates. The article describes how a Chow who was surrendered for being aggressive with children and who also had skin allergies was placed with an adoptive family in New Hampshire after volunteers worked for several months to find the placement. Like most successful rescues, KGARL uses social media. Their Facebook page has features on shelter animals and they run a Petfinder site for KGCAC. KGARL also provides assistance for low-cost spaying and neutering.

Virginia shelters report their statistics each year to the Virginia Department of Agriculture state database. KGCAC reported live release rates of 93%, 98%98%, and 96% in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 respectively. In 2013, the live release rate was 91%, with an intake of 664. The modified live release rate (with animals who died in shelter care added to euthanasias) was 95% in 2012 and 89% in 2013. The format for the state report does not have a separate category for owner-requested euthanasia.

King George County, Virginia, was originally listed by this blog on April 15, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Fluvanna County, VA

Fluvanna County is located in the Shenandoah area of Virginia, southeast of Charlottesville. It has a population of 26,000 people. A private organization, the Fluvanna SPCA, has contracted with the county for animal services, and it accepts strays from the county under that contract. I called the shelter to ask about its owner surrender policy, and was told that the shelter accepts owner surrenders with a fee and on a “space available” basis.

The Fluvanna SPCA reported a 93% live release rate in 2011, a 94% rate in 2012, and a 97% rate in 2013. The Virginia state database from which these statistics are taken does not break out owner-requested euthanasia. When animals who died or were lost in shelter care are counted in with euthanasias, the shelter’s live release rate was 91% for 2012 and 93% for 2013. The shelter’s intake has been trending down, from 1169 in 2011 to 1058 in 2012 and 919 in 2013.

In its February 2013 newsletter, the shelter discusses how it uses donations for treating and rehabilitating animals who come to them with problems: “We depend on community support to provide shelter, medical treatment, and adoption services to these animals in need. Because of your generous donations, we were able to beat our annual campaign goal of $100,000 and raise over $124,000! With this amount, we are able to treat life-threatening illnesses like heartworm and tumors and injuries like broken bones and wounds so that every healthy or treatable pet has a second chance for a good life.

The Winter 2014 newsletter reports that this year marks the SPCA’s 25-year anniversary. The shelter’s executive director recounts how the founders started the SPCA in an old mule shed. The director noted that in the previous 18 months one in every six animals taken in was returned to its owner, the shelter has started microchipping all adopted dogs and cats, and they now have enrichment programs for dogs and cats.

Fluvanna County, Virginia, was originally listed by this blog on May 1, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Lynchburg, VA

Lynchburg is an independent city of about 76,000 people in Virginia, located southwest of Charlottesville and east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Lynchburg Humane Society (LHS), is a non-profit that has a contract with the city of Lynchburg for animal services. LHS requires an appointment for owner surrenders and charges a small fee, but states that it will make exceptions for people who need to surrender a pet immediately or cannot pay the fee.

The shelter reported a 90% live release rate for the year 2011. LHS did not do quite as well in 2012, when it had an 87% live release rate. For 2013, LHS was back over 90%, reporting a live release rate of 92% for the year, with an intake of 1537 animals. The city of Lynchburg animal control euthanized 25 animals, and the live release rate for the community as a whole in 2013 was 90%.

LHS has been struggling with a relatively high number of shelter deaths. They attribute this in large part to their badly outdated shelter building, which has made it difficult to control infectious diseases. If animals who died in shelter care are counted in with euthanasias, the modified live release rate for 2013 drops to 83%. There is hope on the horizon, though, because LHS has almost completed its fundraising for a new building, which they expect will be completed this fall.

In 2013 LHS transferred only 15 animals, a relatively small number. This is a good sign because it means the shelter is finding permanent homes for animals rather than transporting them to other states or to rescues. LHS is thus freeing up capacity for transporters and rescues by taking care of its animals within the community.

Many shelters have blogs, but the LHS blog is particularly worth following because it occasionally has posts that analyze its programs from a statistical or outcomes point of view. Three posts that are worth reading for their statistical analyses are linked here:

Arlington County, VA

Arlington County, in northern Virginia, is just across the river from the District of Columbia and is a highly urbanized community of 221,000 people. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) is a private organization that contracts with Arlington County to provide animal control and sheltering services. The shelter’s website states that the shelter accepts owner surrenders. The shelter asks people who have to surrender their pet to schedule an appointment, bring in the pet’s medical records, and fill out a pet personality profile. There are pet retention services available.

The shelter has a suite of services that it offers the community, including low-cost spay-neuter, safekeeping, and a TNR program. It offers no-interest loans to low-income people for emergency pet care. Another innovative program offered by the shelter is its “Baby-Ready Pets” program, originally developed by the Providence Animal Rescue League and the Rhode Island SPCA. It is a two-hour workshop offered to expectant parents to help them “prepare their home and their pets for the arrival of the new baby and to make sure that it is a safe and (relatively) stress-free experience for all.” The shelter offers humane education and birthday parties at the shelter.

AWLA posts its fiscal year statistics on its website. In the fiscal year ending in June 2011, the shelter had an 89% live release rate. In the fiscal year that ended in June of 2012, the shelter had a 92% live release rate. The shelter reported 278 owner-requested euthanasias for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, and 5 animals who died in shelter care. If those deaths are counted in with euthanasias, the live release rate was 78%. I spoke to shelter director Neil Trent about the number of owner-requested euthanasias, and he stated that the shelter requires that an animal brought in by an owner for euthanasia must meet the shelter’s standards for euthanasia. He remarked that the shelter, located as it is on the edge of a large urban area, receives requests for owner-requested euthanasia from beyond its jurisdiction.

In fiscal year 2012-2013, AWLA had an intake of 1618 animals, not counting owner-requested euthanasia requests. The live release rate was 92%. The shelter performed 232 owner-requested euthanasias and had 13 animals who died or were lost in shelter care. If those animals are counted in with euthanasias, the live release rate was 80%.

Arlington, Virginia, was originally listed by this blog on April 18, 2013, based on its 2011-2012 fiscal year statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2012-2013 fiscal year statistics.

Albemarle County, VA

Charlottesville is an independent city within Albemarle County in Virginia, located near the Shenandoah National Park. The combined population of the city and county is about 118,000 people, not counting non-resident students who attend the University of Virginia. The Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA (CASPCA) is a private non-profit that contracts with the city and the county for animal sheltering services.

The shelter takes in strays and owner surrenders. It has a pet retention program to reduce the number of owner surrenders, and requires an appointment and a fee to surrender a pet. The shelter does not guarantee acceptance of an owner surrender if the animal has a major medical or behavior issue.

CASPCA posts its statistics on its website. It had a 90% live release rate in 2006 and has had a 90% or better live release rate each year since 2009. In 2011, the shelter’s live release rate was 93%. The live release rate for 2012 was 94%, with an intake of 3569 dogs and cats. If we include the categories of owner requested euthanasia (ORE) and died or lost in shelter care in with euthanasias, the shelter’s 2012 live release rate was 92%. This is the same as 2011, when the calculation including ORE and died/lost was 92%.

For 2013 the shelter reported an intake of 3679 cats and dogs. This is an intake of approximately 31 per 1000 people. The live release rate was 96%. The shelter did not report any owner-requested euthanasias. If animals who died or were lost in shelter care are included with euthanasias, the live release rate was 94%.

The director who first took CASPCA to a 90% or better live release rate, Susanne Kogut, resigned in June of 2012. Leslie Hervey was selected as the new executive director in the summer of 2013. Hervey was formerly the executive director of the Martinsville-Henry County SPCA in Virginia.

Albemarle County, Virginia, was originally listed by this blog on April 15, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.