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No Animal Left Behind - Fredericksburg SPCA (Virginia Feature: March - May 2018)

Love comes in many forms, many shapes, many sizes, and often with mud, slobber, and wet kisses.  There is nothing more loyal than a dog that loves you, and nothing stronger than a bond between you and your dog. This love and loyalty is something many of us can relate to.   Now, what if this relationship never happened?  As I look down at my own three dogs who were rescued, I personally could not picture a world without them. Organizations like Fredericksburg SPCA, make these life-changing relationships possible. 

 

 

Here is a look at when we stopped in to say hi to the team and play with some pups.

Fredericksburg SPCA is an animal rescue that believes in all dogs and cats, even the underdog.  Let’s begin with the story of Valor, which was one of Executive Director, Caitlin Daly’s, favorite stories (of many).  Valor is a tan terrier mix with a white chest and white paws.  He is a very lucky pup that would likely not be here if not for the commitment, passion, and love of this Virginia animal shelter.  He came to them as a puppy with a rare nervous system disorder that had him always shaking.  This made it hard for him to use his hind legs.  It also posed a great challenge to the shelter and warranted a big decision.  Caitlin noted, “Most were recommending euthanasia [due to his disorder], but we knew this was not an option for him. He could still live a good life.”

Instead, they used their resources and committed to giving this young pup an enjoyable loving life.  It started with finding Valor a foster home and investing in highly specialized therapy. This included both underwater treadmill sessions and injection therapy. 

Valor enjoying some play time in the water.

Fast-forward to today. Valor has now been with his forever family for two and a half years and is enjoying life to its fullest! While he still has symptoms of his disorder, it does not stop him from enjoying the ocean or the sandy beach.  It is stories like this that set Fredericksburg SPCA apart from many other shelters and just put a smile on your face.

We had the great pleasure of talking with the executive director, Caitlin Daly, to gain some insight into Fredericksburg SPCA and the fantastic progress made since taking over in 2015.   With three rescued dogs of her own, Rowen (a 7 y/o pit mix), Jenna (a 10 y/o Shepard mix), and Poe (a 2 y/o puggle), she understands the love and lives that are at stake. I could sense the passion and love she brings to the shelter in her voice as she talked about the good they have been able to do.

Adoptions at this shelter have almost tripled since 2015, with 1800 adoptions in 2017.  Caitlin noted that this increase began with a drastic improvement to the internal culture of the organization. From there, they were focused on creating a low-barrier adoption process with a willingness to collaborate and a drive to connect with the community.  She followed up by saying, “It’s truly a judgment free zone.”

8-year-old love bug, Stevie - Learn More Here

With all of this success, I had to ask her what she was most proud of.  She responded by explaining that they take in animals that many other shelters can’t or won’t.  They are not afraid to take on challenges or animals with issues, and they do not have any problems adopting them out to loving homes.  She stated, “It’s about having creative ways of marketing and driving attention to their positives.”  She went on to use Cats with FIV (Feline immune deficiency virus) as an example.  These cats can live very normal and enjoyable lives without the need for much if any medical attention, however, if you label them as having an issue right away, people do not even give them a chance.  With that said, they are very transparent with the adopting families.  It is more about allowing potential adopters to find that bond with an animal and ensuring they are properly educated about any health risks they may have.

Another fantastic program that she started was the Adventure Tails program.  This is where a volunteer can simply come in and take out one of the long-term resident animals for a walk.  It gives the animals a well-deserved day off from the shelter scene, and also allows the volunteers to learn more about the animal and their personalities in a more natural environment.  It started as an opportunity for prospective adopters to get to know and bond with an animal outside the shelter, but quickly became a great volunteer opportunity to give the shelter animals some fresh air and a well-deserved break.   Through our discussion, I discovered that it was originally called the “Pokemon-Go” program while the app was all of the craze, but was rebranded to Adventure Tails on Earth day, 2017.  This is another example of how Fredericksburg SPCA is going above and beyond to provide to their shelter animals and community. As stated on their website, “The Adventure Tails program breaks down so many barriers for our community AND our animals!”

As a final question, I asked Caitlin, “What would you improve or expand at the shelter if there were no restrictions?”  As she already improved it so much since 2015, I thought it would be interesting to hear her response.  She responded with two main areas.

The first would be to create a community cat department that would focus on Feral populations.  She explained, “Cat populations are a hugely overlooked issue in both shelters and within the state.”  It is an issue Virginia as a whole needs to address. The next would be to create a department to address severe behavioral problems in dogs.  It would allow them to have the deep resources required to take in and rehabilitate those that had no-where to go due to perhaps a troubled past.  I could tell that both of these were not spur of the moment ideas for Caitlin. I would not be surprised to see one of these departments come to life in the future.

We are very proud to be featuring the fantastic Fredericksburg SPCA where close to 2000 animals are adopted every year.  Caitlin Daly and her team have truly made an IMPACKT to their community and we hope to help them through our donation of 10% of sales for the period of March-May.  I thought Caitlin summed everything up perfectly when she said, “If an animal has the potential to live a good life, there is no ceiling to what we are willing to do.”  They are a shelter that stays true to their mission to create positive change within their community through compassionate care and outreach.  For that, we thank you.

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