2022 – As the pandemic gradually slowed, some semblance of normalcy returned for all of us. The South Pacific County Humane Society (SPCHS) faced many challenges and hurdles this past year, but thanks to our loyal supporters and dedicated staff and volunteers, we have been able to continue our mission to care for homeless cats and dogs. As always, we are thankful to have such a great team and support of the community.
We had to be creative this year to adjust to the post-Covid reality, but our supporters stepped-up to help make these changes work. In normal times, the shelter has been open to the public five days a week. At the height of the pandemic, we developed a service window at the shelter and an on-line adoption system including adoptions by appointment. This year we have been working to increase public access while maintaining a safe environment for our staff and volunteers and our shelter animals. We’ve held several open house events to accommodate those interested in a first-hand look at our shelter operations. These events have been well attended and have helped to ease the frustration often experienced by our supporters who want to come in and visit our shelter pets. We plan to continue these events in 2023.
Shelter Animal Count: In 2022, our shelter took in 369 cats and dogs, finding forever homes for 301 and returning 97 to their owners with the remaining balance at the shelter waiting for their forever home or transferred to another agency. Our shelter manager and adoption counselors work with potential adopters helping them find the perfect match.
Details of our 2022 intake and outcome are published and available. As a no-kill shelter, SPCHS had a 98% live release rate in 2022 calculated by dividing live outcomes by total outcomes. As always, our cats and dogs receive their vaccinations including rabies, and are altered and micro-chipped before adoption.
Assistance Programs: In support of our mission to reduce pet overpopulation through community outreach, SPCHS funded reduced cost spay/neuters for 232 household cats and dogs. Thanks to a grant from the “We Love Our Pets” license plate program many of the household spay/neuters were provided with just a $15 co-pay. Our Community Cat Advocate assisted and educated many community members with the trap, neuter/spay, return (TNR) process for community/feral cats. With her support, 73 community/feral cats were altered, vaccinated and returned to their colony or location. To make it easier for those wanting to help with community cats, our local Dennis Company Ace has agreed to discount a trap for those showing a voucher from SPCHS. Our Pet Food Program assisted 78 households struggling to provide food for their pets.
Cat and Dog Enrichment: Providing the cats and dogs in our facility the best experience possible until a forever home is found for them is our number one priority.
Our Cat Advocate leads the Cat Advocate Team whose objective is to promote cat adoptions, enrich the shelter environment for cats, provide promotion and support of cat spay/neuter programs, develop systems and policies to deal with feral/unadoptable cats and develop an effective foster care program. Our Cat Cuddlers provide enrichment and socialization of the cats. Their input on the details about the cats’ personalities, help adoption counselors find the right match from prospective adopters. We continued our closed Cat Cuddler Facebook group making it easy for the Cat Cuddlers to communicate pertinent information and to share wonderful photographs to help us find the perfect forever home for each cat.
We are fortunate to have great foster homes for our cats and kittens, including many new foster families who joined our team this year. The shelter took-in 110 kittens with many of them requiring to be bottle fed. Until the kittens are old enough to be altered, they are placed in a foster home. Our cat/kitten foster coordinator has done a great job of placing the kittens in the foster homes, tracking their health, vaccinations and spay/neuters all while fostering herself the kittens needing to be bottle fed.
Our Dog Advocate leads the dog walker volunteers bringing the team together for training, scheduling and sharing of information and experiences with the dogs. She ensures the dogs are walked every day with most dogs walked two to three times per day. Our Dog Advocate works with professional trainers to assist with dogs that require some extra training and focus to increase their adoptability. We have maintained our closed Dog Walker Facebook group to enhance communication about the dogs and their personalities.
Painting Dog Kennels and Support Areas: With grant funds provided by the Templin Foundation and the Loren H. Corder Foundation, we contracted to have the dog kennel, kitchen and dog isolation areas painted. This required significant volunteer assistance to move all the dogs outside and maintain them there until it was safe to bring them back in.
Outside Kennel Gate Repair: Our outside kennel gates were showing their age. Over time our facility manager arranged for the replacement of these gates to improve the outside run security.
Pandemic: The pandemic continued to impact how we managed staffing, interactions with the public, training volunteers and raising funds. We implemented the recommendations of social distancing and masks. Our staff schedules were arranged to minimize the number of people working in the shelter at the same time. We continue to interact with the public through a service window. Visitors were only allowed in the shelter after they submitted an adoption application and were approved for adoption after screening. We also worked to limit to only two visitors allowed in the shelter at a time. We began the process of gradually increasing public access to the shelter, while ensuring that we maintain a safe environment for staff and volunteers, and, of course, our shelter animals. We continued to conduct our volunteer orientations with on-line application, initial phone call and discussion, and scheduled one-on-one training sessions. We had an increase in volunteers in 2022, primarily dog walkers and cat cuddlers. We are still looking to expand our team of volunteers, particularly in the areas of animal care/cleaning tasks, front desk, fundraising, and management of online activities.
Rising Expenses and Static/Decreased Income: We conducted some successful on-line campaigns including Spring and Fall on-line auction in 2022. We also received a $8,500 Working Washington Grants Round 5 Program that helped us to maintain staff critical to the care of the cats and dogs at the shelter. Raising funds for the shelter continues to be a challenge and rising staff wages and costs of services and supplies have required us to think creatively about how to conduct our shelter operations.
2023 Priorities: Our priorities for 2023 include creating cash flows to cover program expenses, reducing operational expenses by restructuring daily animal care/cleaning tasks to use volunteers in areas that do not require the expertise of paid staff, recruiting and training volunteers for leadership positions, our cat and dog foster teams, expanding our fundraising activities and our search for grant funds to help defray costs. As with may nonprofit organizations, we have relied heavily on our core group of volunteers to the point that many are suffering from “burnout”. We need to bring in new volunteers to expand our teams, reduce costs, and continue undiminished scope of services the community expects from us.
We are facing a challenging 2023, but with the help of our community, staff, and volunteers, we have hope to overcome those challenges. Thanks to our community for supporting us this year! And, of course, thanks to our loyal and hard working staff and volunteers. Without them, we could not continue to serve the needs of the animals who come to us for help.
Patti Lee, Board President