Stafford’s new state-of-the-art animal shelter opened almost five months ago, and its meaningful impact is already being felt at the shelter and in the lives of Stafford’s homeless animals. The spacious shelter gives animals more room to move around both inside and outside, resulting in less stressed, more relaxed animals, and more room for potential adopters to interact with the animal. Adoption rates have risen and the new facility, explicitly designed to enhance the lives of animals, is drawing more volunteers.
“I am grateful to our Board of Supervisors for making this new shelter a priority and investing in the lives of our homeless animals. This new shelter has changed the way we do business as a shelter and is helping animals find homes more quickly,” said Captain Mike Null, Chief Animal Control Officer. “As well, the new facility has drawn more wonderful volunteers. They make a huge difference to us but have an even better effect on our animals.”
Volunteers are an essential ingredient to the smooth running of the shelter. They clean, interact with the animals, walk them, make and give them special treats like peanut-butter-filled Kong balls for enrichment activities and they facilitate potential owners meeting animals.
“I can’t emphasize enough the positive effect of the new, more humane and ergonomically designed shelter on the mental and physical well-being of the animals,” said Nicole Bates, Stafford County Animal Shelter Assistant Manager. “Environment really makes a difference, and we are seeing happier animals and just an all-around more positive experience for everyone who visits our shelter.”
At Stafford’s old shelter, dogs did not have outside time unless a volunteer was available to walk them. At the new shelter, there are runs with indoor/outdoor spaces and dogs can get fresh air anytime. Being able to be in their natural habitat calms dogs and helps make them more attractive for adoption. There is grass for playtime and space for volunteers to play with them.
As well, the cat areas in the new shelter allow the cats to have plenty of room to interact with other cats or find a quiet spot to relax. Cats can get spooked easily and having a less stressful existence helps potential owners see the real personality of cats. It also gives those with multi-cat households a glimpse into how a cat interacts with other cats.
The shelter has multiple areas in which potential adopters can interact with animals. It’s important when people are looking to adopt an animal that they have the time and opportunity to interact with the animal to get to know the animal to see if it would work for their home. Shelter officials stress the importance of bringing all members of the household to meet a new pet, noting that a new pet is a change for everyone, particularly the animal.
The shelter is not limited to just dogs and cats. Over the last few months, it has had a gecko, a bearded dragon, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds and hamsters available for adoption. And if you don’t see anything you are looking for at the moment, you can put your name and preferences in the shelter’s “Request Book.” When a particular animal comes in, officials will call you and give you first chance at adoption. This process speeds up adoption. Call the shelter at (540) 658-7387 or email them to make a request.
For more information about the services of the Stafford County Animal Shelter, please visit www.staffordcountyanimalcontrol.com. Those interested in volunteering can stop by the shelter, located at 26 Frosty Lane, Stafford, VA 22554, to pick up a volunteer application.