We held candlelight vigils, protested in the streets, attended city council meeting after city council meeting, and spread the written word: both privately in letters and email, and publicly through social media and petitions. The media played an important role in telling the story.
Our message was consistent:
Change was needed with policies, procedures, and leadership of the RCACP.
Our requests included:
Improved medical care
During this time, Angels of Assisi pulled many, many animals from RCACP who needed significant medical care. We sent our transport truck over to transfer large numbers of animals to our adoption center on euthanasia days. We started a program for orphaned kittens, a group who had no chance to leave the pound alive. We developed a much more extensive foster program. We networked, stretched our resources to the max, lost and made friends, and occasionally came to the point of breaking to help the homeless animals in our community.
Over time, the much needed change started happening. The volunteer request was the the first to be granted, and what a difference they have made.
Continued progression lead to the announcement of a split between the RCACP and the Roanoke Valley SPCA. It became official on July 1, 2013, and the pound is now run by the municipalities who fund it; Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Botetourt County, and Vinton.
The municipalities have added staff to fill the vacancies of leadership and medical staff, including a new Executive Director, a Veterinarian, and a Licensed Veterinary Technician.
During the transition period this summer, Angels of Assisi staff and volunteers facilitated on site adoptions at the RCACP; for the first time, animals were allowed leave the pound directly to new homes.
A few weeks ago, the Executive Director emailed us with the good news that RCACP was ready to start their own adoption program. Our last day at RCACP to facilitate adoptions was Saturday, August 31. The pound was ready to roll on their own.
We are very proud of the changes made at RCACP, and of the fact that the number of animals killed has gone from over 4800 when we first started, to 1781 last year. A heartfelt congratulations to the caring community who made this happen. Although not there yet, we have every confidence that we can join the ranks of no kill cities throughout the county who have worked hard towards this very same goal. There are now three adoption centers in Roanoke where perspective families can go to find a new family member: RCACP, Angels of Assisi, and the Roanoke Valley SPCA.
Because of the history, and the fact that change can be scary, we have been asked one question repeatedly since the announcement of RCACP adoptions: Will Angels of Assisi still be saving animals from RCACP?
And the honest answer is: the new leadership of RCACP is now equipped to save their own animals. It has been a long time coming, and the day is here. Angels of Assisi will always help in some capacity with the RCACP animals, especially if there is one in need of more medical care than they can provide, and as special needs arise. For example, Lily (already a staff favorite!), who suffers from a condition called Cerebeller Hypoplasia, came from RCACP. She will need a very special family to take care of her, and we are prepared and happy to assist.
The animals who enter our adoption center will mostly be coming from the people in our community who need help, and are trying to do the right thing by NOT taking their animals to the pound. They deserve our support, and we have learned from the best on how to provide it.
We wish the RCACP and Roanoke Valley SPCA every success in their new endeavors. As for us, our focus is progressing to help keep animals out of the pound. This includes continued development of our programs for victims of domestic violence, people needing short term placement for their animals as they get back on their feet, and help in placing animals for people in hospice.
We are adding events to the Angels in Action program, taking low cost and free medical services into under-served neighborhoods, expansion of our sick animal services, and additional pet retention services. Angels of Assisi will continue to help any animal control entity with court case animals, who can benefit from the Biscuit Fund for abused and neglected pets.
A heartfelt thank you to all who have endured the ups, the downs, and put in the sheer hard work to get us to this point. It was a lot, and we can testify that not one day went by without thought or action into the situation at hand.
The time has come to move forward, and it feels really good to be back doing what our Angels of Assisi family does best- prevention, treating others with compassion, and thinking outside of the box for creative progression.
With deepest appreciation for each and every person who helped along the way, and with much hope for the future-
Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.