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2017: An Impactful Year for the Animals and People in Our Community

Lisa LaFontaine, President & CEO

As we celebrate the arrival of 2018, I wanted to take a moment to look back at 2017, which was a very exciting and impactful year for the animals and people of our community.

HRA had four significant initiatives this year that will pay dividends for decades. I have never been so proud of our staff, and appreciative of our volunteers and supporters, who made these possible. They are:

  • The HOPE (Help Out, Partner, and Engage) Program, which helps animals by supporting the people who love them. Through this program, we offer free spay/neuter surgeries, vaccinations, basic veterinary care, and a variety of free pet supplies to residents in traditionally underserved areas of the District.

  • Our new Blue Collar Cats program, a community-based rehoming initiative that puts cats unsuited to home life to work doing what they do best in return for food, shelter, and basic care. So far, 52 cats have found successful, life-saving “employment.”

  • The District’s first kitten nursery. Located at our New York Avenue Adoption Center, this effort allows us to better care for the youngest and most vulnerable felines.

  • The Standard of Care for Animals Act of 2017, or “Ray’s Law,” establishes strong definitions for proper care for animals and empowers the dedicated professionals who make up our Animal Care and Control team. Moving forward, our officers now have more tools at their disposal to ensure that the animals are protected; we now have more ability to effectively prosecute those that choose to violate these laws.

Ray’s Law represented a bittersweet milestone for us. The law was named in honor of Ray Noll, our Vice President of Field Services, who died only days before the act became law. Ray played a pivotal role in crafting this legislation and the law is a fitting legacy to a man who lived his live as a true champion of animals. HRA experienced another tragic loss in 2017 when Animal Caregiver Tae Bennett was shot by an unknown assailant. Tae’s spirit will never be forgotten and his dedication to animals was honored in the dedication of Tae’s Yard at our New York Avenue facility. The losses of these two incredible human beings hit us really hard, but the singular HRA team pulled together to support one another, carry forth the memories of these two fine men, and to provide loving care to the animals despite their grief. 

Adopting animals is vital to our mission and 2017 saw almost 5,000 animals find new homes through our adoption centers and our dedicated foster families. While every adoption is another life saved, some adoptions have particularly heartwarming stories behind them. Julep, an 18  year-old dog needing a home after his owner became sick, found a fairy tale adoption; Talleyrand, a kitten found paralyzed in a drainage ditch, was treated by our talented medical team and now has a home of her own;  and Symba, a 35 pound cat, received national attention for his girth, but found an adopter dedicated to his weight loss. He has lost more than eight pounds, and his journey to wellness has its own social media following!

HRA stepped up at a national level to assist with the overwhelming needs created by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. We deployed teams of animal caregivers, veterinary technicians, humane law enforcement officers and transfer experts to provide assistance on the ground  for animals from Texas and Florida. Nationals All-Star Max Scherzer and HRA Board Member Erica Scherzer funded adoption fees to expedite adoptions of our shelter residents so that we could make room for the incoming animals displaced by the hurricanes. With their help, more than 175 animals were adopted, clearing housing space so that we could rescue more than 100 animals over the course of the hurricane season.

Finally, we celebrated our one-year anniversary as the Humane Rescue Alliance. Our organization has continued to save lives, create families, and strengthen our community. We look ahead to 2018 with excitement, enthusiasm and resolve as we continue to set a new standard for animal welfare.


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