NORFOLK, VA – Norfolk Animal Care and Adoption Center has implemented a new program to improve how it takes in companion animals to better serve the community’s needs.
This program, called “coordinated entry,” provides additional support and resources, including a comprehensive resource guide. Together they help pet owners who need assistance to keep a pet at home as well as pet owners who need to find a new home for a companion animal.
“Coordinated” means that before accepting an owner’s request to surrender a pet, staff at NACC will first seek to understand why and will ask pet owners to consider helpful resources to keep their pet, or to find it a new home on their own. We know from long experience that the shelter, no matter how welcoming and comfortable we make it, is a stressful environment for companion animals. If an animal can remain in a home environment it should.
“Entry” means that NACC will continue to provide a safe haven for animals in need, particularly those with emergency medical needs, those at risk or that pose public safety concerns, and those in exigent circumstances. Animals surrendered for other reasons will enter the shelter by appointment and after staff counseling and exploration of available resources.
“We want to provide the best care and support possible to both animals and pet owners in Norfolk,” said NACC Bureau Manager Michelle Dosson. “That means we must do all we can to ensure animals remain in our community, in the settings that are most appropriate. We want to solve problems and help with what most owners want – what’s best for their pets.”
This community-focused approach boosts NACC support to pet owners. Staff at NACC created a comprehensive resource guide (attached, and at NACC’s page on www.norfolk.gov) for pet help ranging from discounted vaccinations and veterinary care to behavior training to pet-friendly housing to deployment fostering. Need help feeding your pet? Consider the Pet Pantry, supported by the non-profit group Friends of NACC. This pantry can assist with either long term or one-time pet food assistance. (Want to make a donation? We always accept donations of canned and dry food for dogs and cats. Drop food at 5585 Sabre Road, or make a donation online at friendsofnacc.org.)
NACC has shared this resource guide with our partners at the Norfolk Police Department’s Animal Protection Unit to ensure the information is available immediately in the field.
Results have already shown the success of these interventions to provide positive outcomes for companion animals and their families. During the first 30 days, 31 families were assisted by NACC in the re-homing process. During that time, 16 animals, or 52 percent, were able to either gain resources or re-home on their own with NACC support.
In addition to increased support for animal families, coordinated entry offers other benefits to NACC staff and the animals in our care:
- Allows staff to better plan for and manage space within the shelter
- Allows staff to prepare for incoming animals
- Places priority on the animals most in need: those with medical emergencies and those who pose public safety concerns
NACC tested coordinated entry during operations changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and will now implement it full time as a best practice demonstrated at other shelters around the country. NACC will continue to keep statistics and information on the animals in our shelter and those who ask for help and will coordinate with other local animal shelters to ensure that any animal or pet owner who needs help gets it.
“We rely heavily on our community to help us save as many animals as possible through adoption and foster programs and helping to reunite lost animals with their families,” Dosson said. “NACC is focused on engaging with our community now more than ever by including them in the lifesaving equation as much as possible -- which includes enabling them to attempt to rehome their own animals safely and independently of the animal shelter.”
As always, NACC staff are happy to answer your questions. Just call us at 757-441-5505 or email email@example.com. You may also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.