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March 24, 2010

How The HSUS Helps Local Shelters

Since The HSUS’s founding in 1954 we have been clear about our mission: tackling the large-scale cruelties beyond the reach of local humane societies. But our direct care activities are also unequaled in the field of American animal protection. In 2009, more than 70,000 animals received hands-on care through HSUS sanctuaries, rehabilitation centers, mobile veterinary clinics, emergency response programs, and sponsored spay/neuter events. When you combine our hands-on animal care with our programs that support local animal shelters, The HSUS spends more than $20 million annually. One of our many goals is to further the work of local shelters and to end pet homelessness, and that work takes many forms.

Cat at animal shelter
Michelle Riley/The HSUS

In the 1970s, shelters across America euthanized 12-20 million dogs and cats when there were 67 million pets in people's homes. Today, nearly 4 million animals are euthanized in shelters annually, while there are more than 171 million dogs and cats in people's homes. Great strides are being made, but we still have a ways to go. U.S. shelters cannot save and support the huge numbers of accidental litters, strays, and family pets brought to their doors every day. For the animals who do not get a second chance, the situation is dire. We must strike at the roots of this problem.

The HSUS celebrates the life-saving work of our colleagues and partners on the local level and supports them in their efforts to save pets. Coming up May 12-15 in Nashville, Tenn., we’ll host Animal Care Expo, the preeminent education and trade show for animal shelter professionals and volunteers. In addition to our workshops on animal sheltering, fundraising, emergency response, and more, this year we’ve added an entire track on equine protection and Emmylou Harris will join us for an exciting Welcome Session to kick off the conference, speaking about her experience in animal rescue.

But Animal Care Expo is just one of the many ways we help local animal care organizations every day. Ending pet homelessness takes a multi-prong approach and The HSUS will be there every step of the way, as we have been for more than 50 years. Here are a few of the other ways we support the work of local shelters and rescues in their efforts to make the world a safer and better one for our cherished companion animals:

  • Our award-winning Animal Sheltering magazine is the only print journal devoted exclusively to animal care professionals and volunteers—from humane society directors and city animal control managers to kennel staff, volunteers, and private individuals working as advocates, breed rescuers, wildlife rehabbers, veterinarians, and more. We also offer publications on a variety of topics and multimedia tools to help shelters and rescues improve their work for shelter animals and their outreach to the community.
  • animalsheltering.org is widely considered to be the most comprehensive online resource for shelter professionals and volunteers, with a multitude of information on animal care topics from A to Z.
  • Our Shelter Evaluation Program provides affordable, in-depth animal shelter evaluations to shelters across the country, and our Shelter Services staff respond annually to almost 3,000 constituent emails, phone calls and letters with guidelines and recommendations on shelter standards, care, and operations.
  • The HSUS has partnered with the Ad Council, Maddie’s Fund, and the entire sheltering community on The Shelter Pet Project, a national public service advertising campaign to encourage pet lovers throughout the country to make shelters their first choice for acquiring companion animals. This is the first national PSA campaign to bring together the largest animal welfare organizations and shelters across the country for the unified goal of increasing pet adoption and ending the euthanasia of healthy and treatable homeless dogs and cats. The PSAs have been distributed to more than 33,000 media outlets nationwide and resulted in millions of dollars worth of advertising—an unprecedented level of exposure for pets and shelters.
  • Our Pets for Life New York City program, based at New York City Animal Care and Control, is a relinquishment prevention program to help people who have come to the shelter as a last resort. Our coordinators and volunteers offer advice on everything from controlling pet-related allergies to resolving landlord-tenant conflicts. As a result of these proactive efforts, 3,000 pets have stayed with their families—and out of New York City animal shelters.
  • The HSUS is working tirelessly to expand public access to affordable, high-quality spay/neuter services. We’ve invested millions in our Gulf Coast Spay/Neuter Project, helping to develop low-cost spay and neuter programs throughout Louisiana and Mississippi and driving pet owners to these services through multi-media advertising. The program has been so successful that we’re planning to take it to other states and have made the marketing materials available for other organizations to use and customize for their communities.
  • The HSUS also runs the world’s largest annual spay/neuter event: Spay Day. This year, the Spay Day Online Pet Photo Contest raised $527,000 to support the lifesaving spay/neuter programs of The HSUS, Humane Society International, and more than 200 participating animal shelters and organizations around the world. So far, 40,532 cats, dogs and other animals were spayed or neutered around the world in conjunction with Spay Day 2010.
  • Throughout the year, our Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association staff and volunteers work around the globe bringing no-cost spay/neuter and other veterinary services to rural communities where regular veterinary care is not available. In 2009 the HSVMA Field Services unit conducted spaying and neutering surgeries and/or wellness examinations for more than 8,000 animals, at an estimated value of $1,271,400.
  • We provide disaster assistance, including on-the-scene leadership in the collection and care of animals during crises. Plus, The HSUS assists in the rebuilding of animal shelters damaged in disasters, and supplements local budgets for unexpected disaster expenses. In recent years, these support efforts have channeled millions of urgently needed dollars to local animal shelters. From 2005-2007, we gave $20.7 million in grants to dozens of other organizations in need of such support. Our foreclosure grants funded programs across the country designed to help struggling families hold on to their pets. And this year we’ll debut another life-saving grant opportunity for sheltering and care organizations.
  • Humane Society University offers a wealth of classes for shelter leaders and staff. And we continue to offer dozens of on-site workshops and online courses on disaster animal response training, emergency animal sheltering, compassion fatigue, trap-neuter-release, the animal cruelty-human violence connection, solving conflicts with wildlife, and other topics.

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