Every year, the SPCA sees around 6.5 million animals surrendered to shelters nationwide. It may have been anything from puppies or kittens left in a box on the side of the road, to older or sick adult dogs or cats, or even malnourished dogs chained up outside for days without food or water. Of these 6.5 million animals, approximately 3 million are adopted, 1.5 million are euthanized and over 700,000 that have entered shelters as strays have been reunited with their owners.
The SPCA of Anne Arundel County was founded in 1920 and is currently the largest and oldest animal welfare organization in the county. It was originally created to help manage the overwhelming amount of stray dogs that had overtaken Eastport. Unfortunately, the SPCA struggled in its early years. It was not until 1934 when Albert McCarthy became the President of the organization that it truly began to shine. Albert was the strong animal welfare activist that the SPCA needed. Under his leadership, SPCA managed and enforced all dog-licensing regulations, and ran six animal ambulances to retrieve animals that had been injured and opened their first shelter building in 1947.
As the shelter grew, they outgrew the original building and it now houses the administrative offices, meeting spaces, volunteer orientation and the Spay and Neuter clinic. The clinic was the dream of Peg Howard who was a volunteer, board member and donor that used her own money to build and equip the first clinic in 1974. This allowed the SPCA to become one of the leading pioneers in low-cost spay and neuter services.
In 2018, almost 2,100 animals were taken in by the SPCA, and not just dogs and cats, but small animals like bunny rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, and hamsters, too. Out of those 2,100 animals, just over 1,700 were able to find their forever homes. In addition to the 2,100 animals in the shelter, 733 were placed in love-filled foster homes.
Animal Fosters are vital to the number of animals the shelter can save each year. Foster care is for some of the most vulnerable animals that come through the doors. Those animals like, pregnant or new moms, orphans, animals in recovery and even some that just need a break from shelter life. A calm and relaxing place to stay provides these animals with their best chance at a happy life. If you, or anyone you know, would be interested in fostering, be sure to reach out to SPCA to learn more!
Volunteers, such as our team members Ashley Marshall and Cathy Purple Cherry who volunteer at the SPCA, also play a critical role in helping to care for the animals in the shelter and SPCA is lucky to have a very active and vibrant program. With a staff of around 50 and 2,100 animals that came through the doors last year, it would be impossible for the staff alone to provide the complete care needed. While volunteers can help with events, gardening, and clinic, one key task is socializing. The socialization of the animals is essential to their adoption. For dogs, getting them out of their 3’x6’ concrete block and metal chain link fence run and taking them for a walk on the scenic nature trail can help ease their anxiety and nervousness.
The SPCA is a 501c3 organization. As a non-profit they look to volunteers, donations, etc. to help keep facilities and programs running. Throughout the year, SPCA hosts a variety of fundraising events to help support their animal budget. Ever drive through Sandy Point State Park at Christmas time for Lights on the Bay? Well, for the last few years, the proceeds have helped all benefit the SPCA. How about the Walk for Animals or the Puppy Plunge in the Summer? All fun events that not only help raise money for the SPCA but give you a glimpse of the sweet faces available for adoption.
One of the next big steps for SPCA is the design and completion of their new animal intake facilities! After 33 years, this building is in desperate need of replacement. The fun part? The team at Purple Cherry Architects gets to help make it a reality! We could not be more excited. But let’s not forget, it takes a village and SPCA needs the help of the community to make it happen. If you would like to help the cause and donate go to aacspca.org!
Hope to see you at the next SPCA event!
*Note: Some of the animals in the photos have previously been adopted.
Written by Ashley Marshall, project manager at PCA.