Brandywine Valley SPCA has partnered with Tangipahoa Parish Animal Services in Hammond, La. for a year-long program to collaborate on programs, infrastructure and long-term revenue sources in order to help the Louisiana shelter improve its life saving rate.
Brandywine Valley Director of Operations Walter Fenstermacher said the program was facilitated by a mentoring grant from Best Friends Animal Society, a national nonprofit that promotes pet adoption and no-kill animal rescue. Fenstermacher said Tangipahoa currently has a 20 percent life saving rate; Best Friends has set a goal of getting every shelter in the nation to a 90 percent rate, said Brent Toellner, senior director of national programs.
“Brandywine Valley SPCA has a proven track record of successful life saving programming and in helping others,” Toellner said.
Tangipahoa, located in a rural area 45 miles east of Baton Rouge and 45 miles northwest of New Orleans, has struggled with challenges such as limited resources, limited spay/neuter capacity and high animal intake; the shelter takes in 5,000 dogs and cats annually.
The first part of the partnership is for Brandywine Valley to send staffers down to Tangipahoa to embed in Louisiana to help implement life saving programs, open adoption policies and intake intervention work to keep animals with their families, Fenstermacher said. The second part is to ease overcrowding by moving animals from Louisiana to Brandywine Valley’s shelters in Delaware and Pennsylvania. The first flight of dogs, which includes both puppies and older dogs, arrived in New Castle Jan. 24; the plan is to have flights every other week throughout 2021, bringing in around 100 animals.
“It’s a bit of a mentorship program. We’re teaching them best practices to bring their save rate to 90 percent. The goal over the next 12 months is to see increases incrementally each month and ultimately for them to be sustainable once we leave,” Fenstermacher said.
He said Brandywine Valley already had an existing relationship with Tangipahoa, so when funding became available for a more robust partnership, Brandywine Valley chose to work with them.
“In the rural south and midwest, there are a lot of shelters that are overcrowded. There’s not a lot of education about spay/neuter. There’s often more animals than there are adopters. It’s not uncommon for there to be too many animals and not enough homes,” Fenstermacher said.
He said the ideas for increasing the life saving rate include a lost and found page for lost animals, intake intervention, licensing, vaccinations, spay/neuter and improved medical capability.
Chip Fitz, director of Tangipahoa, said, “This program literally changes who we are. This will give us an opportunity to be proactive in changing the quality of life for animals in our community. It will allow us to offer some low cost spay/neuter to families that normally cannot afford it and to offer alternatives to simply turning in an animal to us. This will also help to relieve some of the pressures on our local veterinarians that work with us doing our spay/neuters. Not to mention the life saving flights, not only for us but for some of our surrounding parishes.”
For more information on volunteering or adopting an animal at Brandywine Valley SPCA, visit bvspca.org.