The Humane Society of Harford County is looking forward to expanding medical services for its shelter pets after experiencing a 17 percent increase in rescues in 2022, according to a news release from the nonprofit.
“We are making investments for the future, but also keeping true to our roots,” Executive Director Bob Citrullo said in the release.
Citrullo came to the helm of the Humane Society in mid-2022, along with veterinarian Traia Roper, who took over as director of the medical department.
Despite intake increasing from 2,196 animals in 2021 to 2,575 in 2022, the shelter achieved a 98.2% live release rate. Last year, 1,268 animals were adopted, with the largest increase coming from dog adoptions, which went up 144.6% to 296 dogs. In 2021, homes were found for 121 dogs.
Cat adoptions were up slightly at 1.3% over the prior year, with 760 cats and kittens getting adopted; while adoptions of exotics – rabbits, guinea pigs, etc. – increased by 20% to 212.
Thirteen percent more animals who came in lost this year were reunited with their families and returned to their homes. This increase is due, in part, to animals coming in with microchips that are registered properly and/or pets wearing collars with ID tags, according to the shelter.
For those animals that were not microchipped, the shelter performed this service at no charge to their owners. In 2022, 1,156 microchips had been implanted.
The shelter’s volunteer program reopened in 2022, and 85 trained volunteers walked dogs, spent time with cats and exotic animals, answered phones, did laundry, and staffed outreach events.
“Using the latest Value of Volunteer Time report from IndependentSector.org, the 5,165 hours our volunteers gave last year is worth $154,692,” Citrullo said in the release. “This does not include the time dozens of our foster parents contributed to care for the 262 animals placed with them in their homes.”
In addition to the volunteers, the shelter has a team of 30 paid staff and works with countless rescue partners. The Humane Society partners with other local shelters and rescue organizations to give animals another opportunity to find a loving home, while opening up kennel and cage space at the shelter for new arrivals. In 2022, the Human Society transferred 432 animals to these partners, an 8% increase in transfers over the prior year.
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The shelter also thrives from the supportive, animal-loving Harford County community, which it, in turn, supports as well.
“For example, our pet food pantry still plays a vital role in keeping pets with their families,” Citrullo said in the release. “Last year, there were 290 visits and we gave out a little over 500 bags of dog and cat food, free of charge.”
In November, the shelter raised over $27,000 on Giving Tuesday to acquire specialized equipment to do dental procedures. In December, the veterinary team completed its 1,000th procedure of the year, primarily spay and neuter surgeries, but also other life-altering surgical procedures including hernia repairs, mass removals, eye removals and limb amputations.
The shelter earned a gold-level Candid (formerly GuideStar) charity seal, which demonstrates its commitment to transparency, the organization said in the release.
“Our goals in 2023 include expanding our surgical capabilities, and thanks to the backing from our donors, we are well on our way,” Citrullo said. “We will continue to spay and neuter animals prior to adoption, but will also be able to perform routine dental cleanings as well as X-rays and extractions and won’t have to pass these costs on to adopters.”