2023 marked our 50th year saving cats and dogs and finding them forever homes. It was a year of celebration and year of challenges for FOHA and the broader animal rescue community. A rise in returns and strays and a decline in dog adoptions led to constant pleas from our rescue partners to prevent euthanasia for deserving dogs. On a positive note, cat adoptions surged, and our team successfully saved a record number of cats and kittens. Through collaborative efforts, we strived to maximize adoptions, ensuring dogs and cats found their forever homes amid ongoing changes at the shelter. Overall, it was a dynamic year with notable successes for the animals.
- We processed 248 dog adoptions (down 35 from last year) and 187 cats/kittens adoptions(up 49 from last year) – a total of 435 animals which is up from 421 in 2022.
- 10 dogs were adopted after completing treatment for heartworm disease.
- 14 senior dogs (8 years old or older) found their forever homes.
- 17 FIV positive cats were adopted. This is up from 5 in 2022! Over 3x the number of FIV+ cats adopted!
- 10 Diamond Dogs, long stay dogs, found their forever homes in 2023 (same number as 2023).
- Length of stay for dogs rose 10 days and cats dropped by 19 days from the 2022 average (which was already a drop of 15 days from the previous year).
Animal Care Successes and Challenges –
- Our behavior program continues to grow and evolve. Mid-year we were invited to participate in a training session at Middleburg Humane with Dogs Playing for Life. After the 2 day training program our staff and volunteers returned and started running large playgroups for dogs. Playgroups are great for stress relief, exercise and socialization.
- Dog Walking Volunteers have had the opportunity to participate in 5 levels of dog walking training. Training provides the knowledge to work on behaviors that may prevent a fast adoption and also keep our volunteers and visitors safer.
- Behavior assessments are being done on all dogs prior to adoption meet and greets so we have better information for our matchmaking process.
- Enrichment is being provided to dogs and cats every day to keep them stimulated and entertained.
- We had 183 cat foster and 198 dog foster events this year. This includes regular foster care, short term foster and foster with intent to adopt events. Fostering is a great way for dogs and cats to get a break from the shelter and show their true spirits.
- We had a major kennel cough outbreak at the beginning of last year and we had to shut the dog side of the shelter down for several weeks. Fortunately all dogs recovered from the ordeal.
- Dog Foster Program Overhaul – launched virtual foster orientation sessions to train new fosters once a week for dog short term and regular fostering.
- Adoption Program Enhancements – tested out same day adoption, expanded adoption office hours, launched adoption surveys and streamlined our application
- Launched our Volunteer Management System (Galaxy Digital’s Get Connected) for all volunteers to track their volunteer hours and sign up for volunteer opportunities.
- Tablets in kennels and catteries are being used by Animals Caregivers to digitally track medication dispensing during feedings.
- New remote security and remote temperature monitoring systems installed.
- Launched Petcademy for foster and adopter support for the first 30 days after bringing an animal home. Petcademy offers extensive webinar training support and live behaviorist/trainer support to answer questions.
- Expanded WIFI capabilities on property.
- We partnered with the non-profit Echo and they send a group of individuals with disabilities once a month to help us with enrichment making activities. We always have a blast with them!
- 12 Corporate Groups volunteered at FOHA in 2023.
- 180 new dog walkers were trained and 94 new cat snugglers were trained.
- Almost 9,300 volunteer hours logged in our new volunteer management system (April -December 2023).
- Volunteer Hour Value – $285,331.20!
- Awarded 4 grants – Pedigree, Grey Muzzle, Ursula Landreth Animal Rescue Fund and Community Foundation for a Greater Richmond
- 3 successful fundraising appeals, 2 giving days and 2 very successful auctions were completed
- We celebrated our 50th Anniversary in October at the Paws for Celebration Event. This event had a wonderful turnout and we had a great time reflecting on where we have been and where we are going
- We hired Karli Steffy as our Part-time Development Director.
- Tails to Trails team and many from FOHA “Ran the Greenway” again in May, bringing in much-needed funds for the dogs and cats
- We launched our 50th Anniversary logo and refreshed our Treasure Hound logo.
- New billboard on Rt. 15 by Old Carolina Road.
- We have partnered with the architectural firm Cole and Denny to design our new facilities buildings. Our #1 and #2 priorities are a cattery replacement and new medical facilities.
- Our transport van was replaced in September with a lightly used Ford Transit 250. This new reliable vehicle safely gets our staff, volunteers and animals to and from bi-weekly intake, vet appointments and adoption events.
- The cattery roof received a new temporary roof thanks to staff and volunteers. Even though this building needs to be replaced we could no longer hold off on patching the roof with reliable materials.
- Our longer term village received new concrete in the front “yards” to be in compliance with state laws.
- A UTV was donated to FOHA in memory of a volunteer who unexpectedly died earlier this year. This UTV will be a huge help around the property.
- Hired Daniel McLachlan as our Infrastructure Senior Manager.
- Promoted Diara Washington to Program Specialist.
What to look for in 2023 –
- Completed architectural design for Phase 1 construction project – new cattery and hopefully a new medical suite and dog isolation.
- Launch a capital campaign to raise the necessary funds for the new major build.
- Continue to increase adoptions – maybe hit 500 adoptions!
- Train all dog walking volunteers on our behavior program.
- Rollout new process improvement and training documents for our Cat Adoption Program.
- Increase Diamond Dog adoptions and decrease length of stay for our dogs.
- Continue the amazing rate of cat adoptions.
- Revised strategic plan.
Everyone has given their all to make FOHA the best temporary home for our animals. Your dedication to the animals and FOHA’s mission is amazing. Thanks to everyone who has made this another very successful year!
-Alison Maurhoff, Executive Director