By Ally Homa
7.6 MILLION. According to the ASPCA, this is the number of companion animals that enter a shelter each year. How many shelters are available to house these homeless pets? 13,600. This is why adoption is so important. These shelters work every single day to create opportunities for these pets, to keep them healthy and engaged while in their care, to provide them with medical attention when needed, and most importantly, to get them adopted into a loving home as quickly as possible.
So what goes in to running a shelter? We sat down with Bailey Deacon of Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) to get some insight on what it takes to rescue animals every day.
PV: On average, how much does it costs to run your shelter on a daily basis?
BD: It costs about $8,000 a day just to open the doors. We also have to have veterinarians and vet techs on staff at all times. In house medical costs for supplies, spaying/neutering, vaccines, and every day costs add up to $300,000 yearly. Plus, we need volunteers to be on hand at all times to care for the animals.
PV: About how many animals do you welcome into BARCS each day?
BD: We take in on average about 27 new animals each day. About 40% of the animals come in as strays with no owners. About 35% of the animals are surrendered by their owners. The rest of the animals come in from animal control, and BARCS is unable to turn away any animals. In total, we take in 10,000-11,000 animals each year, making us the largest animal shelter in the state of Maryland.
PV: How many volunteers does it take to run the shelter?
BD: We have about 25 volunteers on hand every day, and even more on the weekends.
PV: How easy is it to become a volunteer?
BD: There is an easy online form and within a week, our volunteer manager will contact you. There is an orientation to inform you of the shelter, and you can take some courses on dog and cat care before you begin handling the animals.
PV: When do you typically see the greatest amount of animals enter the shelter?
BD: The summer is by far the busiest time of year where the most animals enter BARCS. Most of the animals we see during this time are cats and kittens, as outdoor cats mate during this time and multiply. We have large litters coming in at a time from animal control. Really small kittens have to enter foster homes since they are so small and need extra attention and care.
PV: What are some of the typical products needed at shelters on a daily basis?
BD: We need indestructible toys like Kongs and other toys that cannot be ripped apart, as well as interactive toys to keep the animals engaged and stimulated on a daily basis. Unfortunately, while plush toys are adorable, we cannot accept them because the animals cannot be left alone with toys that can be destroyed and potentially ingested. We are ALWAYS in need of kitten food, especially the newborn supplements, baby food and kitten milk replacement for the large litters that are surrendered. We are always in need of paper towels and hand sanitizers to keep the shelter sanitary.
We are constantly in need of treats to encourage good behavior. We do often receive food donations, but 9 times out of 10, that food is donated to our food bank for us to help struggling owners. Most shelters feed the same exact food to every dog or cat in the shelter to make sure they are on a consistent diet and aren’t getting sick from too much variety. One thing we always need are blankets, comforters, towels and sheets. We need these all year-round. They do not have to be new, so any timeyou are changing up your blankets, donate them!
PV: Do you only adopt dogs and cats?
BD: We only adopt dogs and cats to the public, but we take in every kind of animals. One time we took in 66 pythons! We have had small pets, farm animals like pigs and donkeys (yup, that happened), exotic animals, you name it. In those extreme cases, we will partner with zoos, sanctuaries and specific rescue missions to get these animals to the right places. We try to be ready for anything, but sometimes you can’t anticipate what may be coming in. This is why donations (and, of course, being able to post our needs on social media) are so helpful!
PV: Is there anything you would like our readers to know about adoption?
BD: For the people who aren’t so sure about rescuing, we want everyone to know that there is nothing wrong with shelter pets. There is often a misconception that rescue animals are bad or poorly behaved, and that’s not the case. They are mostly here because of human errors and factors that were out of their control. Additionally, many people think that shelters are these totally depressing little buildings that they want to avoid, but the shelter world is changing and it’s not a super sad place anymore. Most shelters are filled with knowledgeable people who are pet lovers, passionate about the rescue mission, and are there to provide the greatest care for the animals. With such a limited budget, BARCS, along with every other rescue organization and shelter in the country, relies heavily on adoption events and donations to care for their animals.
At Pet Valu, we believe strongly in adoption and connecting our pet parents and customers with their next family member. Almost every Pet Valu store has rescue cats available for adoption on a daily basis. Additionally, three times a year, winter, spring and summer, we hold National Adoption Weekends where every single Pet Valu store invites rescues to bring their adoptable animals for meet and greets with potential forever families. Last year, with just TWO National Adoption Weekends, Pet Valu found homes for over 1,500 homeless animals. Have you recently adopted a pet or are you thinking about adopting? We are here to help. After you adopt, visit any Pet Valu store for your FREE New Pet Parent Guide with coupons. Our Pet Experts are here for you and all of your new pet’s needs. Like bringing home a new baby, there are some basic essentials you will need to help welcome your new pet into your home and make the transition easier. We want to help you stock up on all the must-haves so you can focus on your newest family member.