Eye toward the future, focus on community
In mid-2022 the Humane Society of Harford County (HSHC) saw a change in leadership when Bob Citrullo became executive director and Dr. Traia Roper took over as director of the medical department. With an eye toward the future, both Citrullo and Roper have been making strides to enhance the services the shelter provides, both for the animals and for the community at large.
In November, HSHC 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.
“We are making investments for the future, but also keeping true to our roots,” Citrullo said. “For example, our pet food pantry still plays a vital role in keeping pets with their families. Last year there were 290 visits and we gave out a little over 500 bags of dog and cat food, absolutely free of charge.”
Despite intake increasing 17% last year – from 2,196 animals in 2021 to 2,575 in 2022 – HSHC still achieved a 98.2% live release rate. That was accomplished by a team of 30 paid staff, 85 volunteers, dozens of foster parents, countless rescue partners, and a supportive community of animal lovers.
Last year, 1,268 animals were adopted into loving homes. Cat adoptions were up just 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. But the big story was dog adoptions which went up 144.6%! In 2021, homes were found for 121 dogs, while last year 296 dogs were adopted.
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. For those animals that were not microchipped, the shelter performed this service at no charge to their owners. At the end of the year, 1,156 microchips had been implanted.
HSHC partners with other local shelters and rescue organizations to give animals another opportunity to find a loving home and open up kennel and cage space at the shelter for new daily arrivals. In 2021, HSHC transferred 432 animals to these partners, an 8% increase in transfers over the prior year.
After being on pause due to the pandemic, the shelter’s volunteer program re-opened 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 added. “And this does not include all the time our dedicated foster parents contributed to care for the 262 animals placed with them in their homes.”
As HSHC ended the year, it earned a gold-level Candid (formerly GuideStar) charity seal which demonstrates its commitment to transparency.
“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.”
About the Humane Society of Harford County
The Humane Society of Harford County, Inc., is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to the welfare and well-being of the approximately 2,500-3,000 animals that come in each year. HSHC promotes the kind treatment of homeless, stray and abandoned animals by providing shelter, care, adoptions, and community education. HSHC is not a county agency nor is it affiliated with any national or regional organization. Tax-deductible donations, bequests, and proceeds from events are crucial to HSHC’s life-saving efforts on behalf of the animals in the community.