In animal welfare, as in life, it’s important to know where you’ve come from to understand where you must go. Before jumping in to 2019, let’s take a moment to look back on all the ways the SPCA Albrecht Center served our community this past year.
In 2018, the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare admitted 507 dogs and 515 cats, not including the 37 dogs and 84 cats who were already in our care on January 1st. For both dogs and cats, these numbers include strays brought to us by animal control and caring members of the community, as well as pets surrendered for adoption by their owners and pets transferred to our shelter from other organizations. Thanks to efforts by the community, animal control, and SPCA staff, 125 lost pets were found and reunited with their owners.
Feral cats are cats who have grown up in the wild apart from humans and who are able to survive successfully with minimal human intervention. It is crucial to reduce these feral cat populations through spay and neuter. Sterilizing these cats will cease spraying, fighting, and other nuisance behaviors. In 2018, 229 feral cats were trapped, altered, vaccinated, and returned to their colonies. Many of these feral cats were trapped and brought to the SPCA Veterinary Care Center by concerned citizens like you!
In 2018, the SPCA Veterinary Care Center performed 3,037 spay and neuter surgeries, administered 6,000 vaccinations, microchipped 2,300 pets, and our staff saw a total of 10,700 patients. As a non-profit organization, 100% of revenue from the SPCA Veterinary Care Center went back to our shelter to fund our lifesaving programs. In total, we spent over $90,000 to provide veterinary care for the homeless pets that entered our shelter.
Looking ahead, 2019 will see growth for the Veterinary Care Center. We plan to add two full-time veterinarians to our staff which will enable us to expand our services and offer clinic hours 6 days a week. If we hope to continue to reduce the homeless pet population, high-volume spay and neuter is essential. Additional staff will allow us to increase the volume of spay and neuter surgeries we are able to perform.
In 2018, the SPCA Albrecht Center’s two retail thrift shops continued to account for
approximately 25% of gross annual revenue. This was largely made possible by the transition to a larger retail space in the Mitchell Shopping Center and the high level of support we’ve received from the community through donations and patronage. We will continue providing friendly customer service and an excellent shopping experience for our customers who love animals and love a good deal.
On the legislative front, 2018 left animal welfare advocates wanting. Last year, SC Bill S.184 which addressed important issues in animal welfare including cruel tethering, unanimously passed the Senate with the help of our Aiken delegation. Unfortunately, the bill was held up in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee where time ran out and the bill died. This year, it is our hope that S.105 (which is identical to S.184) will pass in the Senate again and will be passed in the House this time around. If passed, S.105 will be a step forward for animal welfare in South Carolina. The bill has received a favorable report by the Senate Subcommittee on Animal Welfare and will now be heard by the full Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
In 2019, the SPCA Albrecht Center will also continue efforts to help other localities replicate the City of Aiken’s spay and neuter voucher program and registration fee for fertile dogs. Both programs have reduced the local homeless dog population by incentivizing owners to spay and neuter their pets. We hope to see this success spread outside the City of Aiken.
Thanks to the efforts of our incredible community, the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare had a save rate of 98% in 2018. We could not possibly have provided the same level of care and enrichment for these animals or operated our two thrift shops without our team of 300 dedicated volunteers who gave over 11,400 hours of service last year and our team of fosters who cared for 160 kittens and puppies.
Our community is making progress, but the work is far from done. The success of our shelter and the future of animal welfare in Aiken and surrounding areas lies in the hands of community members. We can make progress by encouraging adoption from rescues and shelters, spaying and neutering owned pets, participating in the TNR program for feral cats, and encouraging our legislators to move forward animal welfare legislation including eliminating unhealthy puppy mills. We can spread this knowledge far and wide to see an Aiken, South Carolina, and one day a nation with no more homeless pets and robust legislation that protects companion animals.
2019 will be full of opportunities and challenges, so let’s get to work!
Jessica Gladkowski is the Director of Community Relations at the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. Jessica received her Bachelor of Arts in Japanese from The University of Vermont. Jessica is inspired to combine her passion for helping animals, teaching, and serving a diverse community through a career in animal welfare. Jessica lives in Aiken with her husband David and their rescue dogs Django and Ollie.