Virginia Humane Living Center

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Companion Animal* Management Survey - 2012

Myths, Facts, Challenges, and Opportunities - A look at companion animal management in fifteen counties of Central Virginia

»»» View the survey report...

*For this survey, "companion animal" refers to the most common animals kept as companions (or pets) - dogs and cats.

  • feral catsShelters in the Northeast region of the country have notoriously fewer unwanted animals than their sister shelters in the South which are routinely forced to euthanize animals due to lack of space. 
    Why are there so many companion animals in need of rescue in Central Virginia?
  • People often fail to report cases of animal neglect or abuse because they don’t know the laws that protect animals.
    What laws affect the protection of companion animals in Virginia?
  • The enforcement rate of animal laws throughout our region is minimal. 
    What do we lose when we fail to prosecute animal law violations?
  • More is often expected of our animal control services than what can be accomplished given the resources, training, and administrative expectations. 
    What are the challenges for Animal Control in your community?
  • Many non-profit animal assistance organizations exist throughout the Central Virginia region.
    What organizations serve your area and how can you learn about them?
  • The Live Release rate of animals from pounds is the sum of animals that leave the pound by return to the owner, by adoption, or by transfer to a non-profit shelter or rescue. 
    How well is your municipal pound doing at getting animals out alive?
  • Municipal Animal Control services are typically a very small portion of a community’s budget. 
    How much does your community pay for animal control services and how are those services funded?
  • Education is the most important means for building responsible animal ownership practices.
    What does your community do to educate community members about responsible animal ownership?

These are a few of the issues addressed in the first survey and report on companion animal management for Central Virginia. 

Animal management has become one of society’s most volatile issues leading some community governments to shun public communication on the issues. Little communication takes place to address constructive solutions.  We hope to promote public awareness and dialog about the challenges our communities face with homeless and neglected animals and the available solutions.

This report gives a pragmatic look at the factors and foundations of humane companion animal management to examine key elements that affect responsible and compassionate animal ownership – education, law enforcement, and access to pet care resources and services.  It includes funding considerations and highlights commonly overlooked solutions that, if engaged, stand to decrease taxpayer burdens and improve community safety.

A preview of what this report has to offer...

For community leaders and concerned citizens:

  • A solid overview of the challenges and issues regarding companion animal management and its relevance to the health and stability of communities.
  • Reference to key animal management codes in Virginia law.
  • Consideration of budget funding and an effective approach to reducing the taxpayer burden.
  • Comparative data that provides a view of each community’s characteristics in relation to neighboring communities.
  • A look at the need and opportunities for education and community assistance.
  • References for additional information on many topics of animal management.

For animal management personnel:

  • Comparative data that can help ACO’s see their practices and challenges in relation to others and to identify professional colleagues that may be able to offer supportive ideas for overcoming hurdles.
  • An examination of the importance of law enforcement pertaining to animals.
  • Extensive list of resources for reference and a listing of regional animal rescue organizations.
  • Recommendations for web site content to serve the information needs of community members and contact for freely available assistance for providing that content.
  • Clarification on common public misperceptions about animal management.

For animal advocates and non-profit leaders:

  • An overview of the challenges and issues regarding companion animal management with the recognition that what benefits the welfare of the community also benefits the welfare of the animals.
  • Community data, laws, and detail that can support the development of an effective appeal to your community administration for needed changes.
  • An examination of key issues, challenges, and opportunities from the perspective of a “community member”.
  • Tips and resources for promoting animal welfare and responsible ownership and references for additional information.