Despite challenges, 2020 brought success and opportunity to the RH-SPCA

Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 7:48 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - 2020 brought unique challenges but with it, unique opportunities to the Rockingham-Harrisonburg SPCA.

While 2020 left many people staying and working from home, Huck Nawaz, the shelter’s executive director, said there was more interest in fostering animals. He said volunteers in their foster program grew almost 400%.

“We had almost 200 new families sign-on to foster for us,” Nawaz said. “What that resulted in was our capacity to be able to broaden care since only so many animals were here.”

Nawaz said the shelter’s main goals for 2020 were to increase community engagement, increase live release rates especially for cats, and assist Rockingham County residents with outdoor cats. He said they had a successful year and made strides to meet all of those goals.

The RH-SPCA increased its live release rate to 99% for dogs and 88 percent for cats.

Nawaz said the new RH-SPCA barn cat program helped give many feral cats a second chance.

“When [feral cats] come into our care, historically, we’ve had no other choice but to euthanize prior to the barn cat program,” Nawaz said. “We launched the barn cat program on August 1, 2020, and the last five months of the year, we found placement for 51 of them.”

In 2020, intakes were down 13%, which is about 400 fewer animals from 2019. On the other hand, kitten intakes increased.

“Over 2,400 animals came in. 1,000 of them were kittens under 5 months of age,” Nawaz said.

Adoptions were up 22% in 2020, which is around 230 more adoptions than they saw in 2019. Overall, 1,324 animals were adopted throughout the year.

There was a 74% decrease in euthanasia. According to RH-SPCA, 135 animals were euthanized in 2020, compared to 519 in 2019. Nawaz said he expects euthanasia rates to continue decreasing because of the success of the barn cat program.

Looking ahead to 2021, Nawaz said the shelter is hoping to address the community cat overpopulation, especially in Rockingham County.

“We’re looking to hire a Community Cat Coordinator part-time in 2021 to help us help community members to trap the cats that are outdoors and then get those cats altered before they have kittens.”

For more information on the Rockingham-Harrisonburg SPCA, click here.

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