Animal advocates want Staunton to oversee operations of local animal shelter

A sign created by Kasey Eldridge who fosters cats for the Shenandoah Valley Animal Services...
A sign created by Kasey Eldridge who fosters cats for the Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center to show Staunton City Council.(WVIR)
Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 9:40 AM EST
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STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) - Animal advocates in the valley are worried about the future of the Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center -- the people who work there, and especially the many cats and dogs that find their way there.

After speaking before local legislators in Waynesboro and Augusta County earlier in the week, Thursday night they made their case to Staunton City Council.

Together Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County own the Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center, but Waynesboro handles the operations. They’re looking for an outside agency to possibly take over.

“This shelter is something special,” Jean Fraser, a volunteer at the Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center for nearly a decade, said. “Every single person on that staff believes that the lives of the animals are really worth saving and this isn’t just a belief… 97% of the animals that come into that shelter come out alive.”

She’s one of several who spoke during a council meeting praising the shelter staff and asking city leaders to keep the animal services center from going to an outside party.

“Hypothetically, this could be an amazing turn of events for the animals, for the people ‚” foster Casey Eldridge said. “But all I can think of is how horrible it could be and it could be the reason that people lose their jobs and that animals lose their lives.”

Speakers pointed to rescue agencies, fosters, out-of-state networks, and volunteers all behind the shelter’s success.

“Everything that you could have wanted from a shelter when you came up with this idea back in 2010 is done, done everyday, and done beyond what your expectations could have been,” dog foster Jason Clarke stated.

The localities put the bid out addressing the challenge of retaining staff.

“How do you expect to hire and retain a qualified person who’s responsible for supervising 11 employees and managing a $450,000 budget for $36,000 a year?” asked animal advocate Danny Link.

Staunton City Manager Steve Rosenberg recognized the dedicated staff and called this an exploration process. “It does not specify or require changes in the service level or programs in the center, nor does it provide for a change in the current level of veterinary care provided to animals at the center,” he said.

Amy Hammer, the founder of Augusta Dog Adoptions, asked Staunton to take over operations. “If you can do absolutely nothing more, please require that whoever takes this bid that there’s an expectation of at least a 90% save rate.”

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