Richmond and New Kent animal shelters get creative through dog swap

RICHMOND, Va. – As Richmond Animal Care and Control knows all too well, saving lives in municipal shelters often “takes a little creativity.”

A recent swap between an urban and rural shelter was made in hopes of diversifying the shelter populations.

See, the city shelter is always full of pit bulls and the rural shelter is always full of hound dogs.

Christie Chipps Peters, director at RACC, said she was texting with Melissa Henry at the New Kent Sheriff’s Department Animal Protection Unit when she got the idea to give potential adopters a broader range of dogs.

“We were texting about another issue and I asked if she needed any pit bulls (as a joke) and she said okay-I said I’ll trade you and we laughed and then said ‘no really’!”

The supervisors gave their blessings and two of each kind were swapped.

Beagles from New Kent ready for some city living.

“The idea has been received famously-all the responses have been supportive!” Chipps Peters said. “We think this is a way to save lives that any shelter could participate. It’s a win for everyone involved and the animals win!”

RACC transferred two pit bulls, named Old Man Jenkins and Noble, for two basset beagle mix dogs. All four are ready to find a forever home.

“We hope other shelters will steal this idea!,” Chipps Peters said.

Earlier in the year, Mayor Levar Stoney visited RACC to celebrate their 89 percent save rate and encouraged them to continue their success.

“The average across the country is between 50 and 60 percent and that just shows that you guys have gone above and beyond,” Mayor Stoney said. “Our officers, our techs, our volunteers– all of you have done an amazing job.”

Old Man Jenkins and Noble the pitbulls ready for rural life.

In 2016, the shelter took in and cared for 3,253 animals.

The save rate has increased in three years from 64 to 89 percent and adoption numbers have more than doubled under the direction of Chipps Peters.

She attributed the success, in part, to a robust foster program and to the Richmond Animal Welfare Foundation, which paid for the treatment of 393 animals in 2016.

“We have a foundation that supports our medical care and that is a key component to why we can save so many animals,” Chipps Peter continued. “Donations to our foundation are genuinely a lifesaving gift.”

“Funding, that is the thing that we need the most,” she added.