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2022: A Year in Review

During the past 12 months, the team at the Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA) has focused on providing compassionate, lifesaving, and life-changing care to the more than 11,000 animals who came through our doors. It has also been a time of innovation, growth, and expansion. Our mission includes multiple priorities – to advocate and care for animals, to help more animals stay with the families who love them, and to help build communities in which the love of animals can thrive. 

click here to Watch the 2022 Highlights Review with our president and ceo Lisa LaFontaine.

We support our communities through education, outreach, and direct service. This year, we expanded our community programs to serve families with limited resources, survivors of domestic violence, and young people seeking a career in animal welfare. Our work is done extensively in “pet service deserts” – areas that lack access to pet stores, veterinary clinics, and more. We go into these communities to ensure that no one is prevented from experiencing the joy and companionship of an animal simply because they are economically or socially vulnerable. Read the full 2022 Annual Highlights Report.

Man with his dog.
Photo Credit: The Dogist  

At all times, we are driven by a commitment to strengthen the human-animal bond and improve the lives of our community members.

And importantly, the impact of HRA reaches far beyond the District of Columbia and New Jersey. 

We encourage you to sit back with a warm beverage and your favorite pet(s) by your side to read about the many ways that your partnership with HRA transformed the lives of people and animals this year. 

You will find:

  • Hundreds of foster families who found room in their hearts and homes to care for animals with special needs
  • A new workforce development program for the next generation of animal care professionals
  • That the WayStation celebrated its 20,000th lifesaving rescue!
  • New programs and resources to keep animals – pets, farm animals, and wildlife – safe and healthy
  • Dedicated field officers rescuing animals who were neglected, abused, or abandoned with almost zero chance of survival

What you’ll also find is endless gratitude – for the animals and people who welcome us into their lives, for our community of supporters who share their time and talents and enable us to fulfill our mission, and for our staff and volunteers who show up every day ready to do the work to protect animals and support families. 

Keeping People and Pets Together

Our Pet Help Center, now in its second year, serves as a single point of entry for pet owners navigating systemic or economic challenges that put their relationships with their pets at risk. In 2022, we helped more than 1,000 pets and their families stay together by providing lifesaving and sustaining pet services. Our case managers practice a whole-family approach to ensure that families trying to keep their pets can do so. Our programs also help to address the pet resource inequity that exists in our community.

We offer pet families the following free and low-cost services, including:

  • A Pet Pantry with plentiful pet food and supplies
  • Medical services that include emergency medical and preventive care as well as spaying and neutering
  • A Safe Haven pet boarding program to help families during periods of emergency transition

Meet Chrissy

Chrissy is a 16-year-old poodle mix. Elderly, blind in one eye, and missing most of her teeth, Chrissy had shared her life with her person, Gloria, since she was a puppy. When Chrissy developed a large tumor in her stomach, Gloria was heartbroken and afraid. The situation was critical, and Gloria couldn’t afford the treatment Chrissy needed. Gloria also had no way to transport Chrissy to receive care, so she reached out to our team in the Pet Help Center for support. We were able to pick Chrissy up at her home and bring her to our medical center, where we did a full medical exam, vaccinated her, and determined she would need surgery. HRA veterinarians removed Chrissy’s mass and brought her home to Gloria – and into the arms of the only family she’s ever known.

Meet Elvis

HRA met the Harrisons when their beloved 3-year-old dog Elvis was experiencing chronic pain due to a congenital disability. When Elvis’s veterinarian recommended a surgery that he might not survive and that his family could not afford, the Harrisons turned to HRA for a second opinion. 

Our veterinary team found that Elvis could live his life perfectly well if he had a wheelchair to help him walk and prevent him from dragging his legs on the ground. But the cost of the wheelchair was beyond their current means, so HRA covered the cost. Within two weeks, Elvis’s chair arrived at the shelter, and we got him sized and fitted. Elvis proudly and happily walked out the door and returned home where he belongs, with his loving family!

Small white dog getting fitted by a HRA medical staff member for a wheelchair.

Meet Kash

Kash went missing from her home in Maryland in 2016. She had lived with her family since she was a puppy, and they were devastated to lose their beloved companion. ⁣Six years later, Kash came through our doors and HRA's pet support, field services, and medical teams leapt into action to see her home.⁣ Kash is now back home with her family and a new sibling, a 5-month-old puppy named Storm. 

“Her personality is exactly how it was with us before. She remembered every last one of us,” said Kash’s mom. “Thank you all so, so much for everything. She was so gentle and friendly ... I appreciate the work you all did.” ⁣


Capacity Building

Last year, we made important investments in key programs and services, with the goal of strengthening the safety net for animals in our communities.  

Pet Help Center: HRA hired a Pet Support program manager and team members to provide solutions and services to pet owners who were struggling to keep their animals. Pet food, behavior advice, veterinary care, and transportation are just a few of the services our Pet Help Center offers. 

Capacity Building for Sister Shelters: Our WayStation program was launched in 2016 to move animals from overcrowded shelters to communities in which there are plenty of adopters. In addition to transporting the animals, we offer mentorship, supplies, and other support to the shelters and rescues in the program. This year, we hired a team to increase our impact – helping shelter partners grow their capacities so that one day they can help all animals in their communities without reliance on our transport program.

Safe Haven: This temporary pet boarding program was launched to help victims of domestic violence escape from their abusers without worrying about what will happen to their pets. In 2022, we expanded Safe Haven to also help families facing other emergencies, such as eviction and hospitalization, by providing temporary boarding for their animals.

Workforce Development: HRA started a new internship program with students from DC Prep, a local charter school, and its PrepNext alumni program. This program serves students through high school, college, and early-career transitions. Our staff provided mentorship and hands-on learning opportunities to Black and Latino students interested in exploring veterinary medicine, helping them build resumes with direct shelter medicine experience.

DC Prep interns cleaning off a kitten in the medical center.

Wildlife Rehabilitation: HRA now has a licensed wildlife rehabilitator on staff, which allows us to provide live outcomes for some wild animals who were previously at risk for euthanasia. 


20,000 Lives Saved through the WayStation

Through flight and vehicle transport, our WayStation animal transport program moves animals from “source” partners, located in areas where the number of homeless dogs far exceeds the available homes, to “destination” partners, located in areas with far more adoption opportunities. Just as important, each destination partner returns a portion of the adoption fee for every relocated dog to the source shelter. These funds can be invested in capacity-building initiatives to help address the root causes of overpopulation in those regions.

In August 2022, our WayStation celebrated an important milestone: We welcomed our 20,000th animal from an overcrowded shelter in Louisiana. Sweetie Johnson will never know she was the 20,000th rescue, but she knows she is now part of a loving family. This milestone flight was a core example of how our WayStation program works with overburdened shelters to save more precious lives.

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Caring for Homeless Animals

Our team works diligently every day to ensure that animals who come through our doors are placed in loving homes. Thanks to our incredible community of foster families, volunteers, and supporters, more than 6,700 animals found new homes this year. Here are just a few of their stories.

Meet Percy

When we met Percy, he was lying against a brick wall in Southeast DC, cold, alone, and obviously in pain. Our animal control officers suspected he had been hit by a car because he was bleeding from his mouth and one of his eyes appeared to be bulging out of its socket. Percy was rushed to our medical center, where our veterinarians performed surgery to remove his eye. In no time, Percy’s inquisitive, playful, and social personality began to shine through. Now he’s living the good life with his new family and refuses to let his monocular vision stop him from running, jumping, and climbing.

Percy the cat laying on a bed.

Meet Darwin

When we found Darwin behind a residential building, the 4-month-old chocolate lab mix was emaciated and near death. Our team members were devastated by what they found – a tiny puppy lying in his own waste, covered in flies, and barely responsive. We brought Darwin to Friendship Hospital for Animals, where the dedicated emergency team treated him for dehydration, pneumonia, and dangerously low blood pressure. Thanks to our Ladybell Fund, a donor-supported fund to provide emergency medical assistance, Darwin was treated and went on to thrive with his foster family, who oversaw his care and recovery. Once he was healthy enough to be adopted, his foster parents officially made him a member of their family!

Brown pit bull-type dog Darwin standing on grass. 

Meet Quigley

HRA animal control officers found kitten Quigley in a parking lot, paralyzed and unable to walk, and brought him to our shelter for medical assessment. After he was stabilized and treated, he moved into a foster home, and in just a few short weeks, he slowly started learning how to use his back two legs. Eventually, he even climbed a seven-foot-tall cat tree! While Quigley will always need extra help, he was thriving in his foster home … so much so that his foster mom adopted him!

watch the video: quigley in his foster home.

Orange tabby cat Quigley looking out the window. Quigley the orange tabby cat in a play tunnel.

Meet Kenzo

Born with extensive physical defects, Kenzo suffered from paralysis that caused pain, trouble standing or moving independently, and incontinence. Our team provided Kenzo with comprehensive medical care, and then we outfitted him in a specialized cart, which allowed him to move around more freely. Kenzo then visited with veterinary specialists, such as neurologists and radiologists, who were able to determine that his neurological and physical issues were due to a neural tube closure defect, sometimes called spina bifida. Since this condition can manifest in a multitude of ways, Kenzo then went for an MRI that revealed a special surgery would protect Kenzo from potentially fatal infections and might bring about an increased level of mobility. After surgery, Kenzo began his rehabilitation with our team right away, and it wasn’t long until he was racing around our play yards, running to our team and volunteers for scratches and chasing his toys. 

A Preview of 2023

Through your support and generosity, our team will help more animals, support more families, and launch impactful programs to build the capacity of animal welfare organizations throughout the country. We also intend to grow a talented animal welfare workforce for the future.

Pet Support Services. People in DC face barriers to providing care for their animal family members, starting with unaffordable and inaccessible veterinary care. Our growing Pet Help Center will continue to address urgent needs through direct service for thousands of pet families throughout the region. And we will enhance our suite of virtual support services to reach families outside of the areas that we serve, from their own homes.

National Capacity Building. In 2023, we will expand capacity-building programs to help shelters throughout the country. These supportive programs will enable source shelter partners to develop successful lifesaving programs using the space and resources that are available to them. We will continue to share tangible resources, including housing and sheltering equipment, food, toys, and other critical resources.

Workforce Development. As a regional, multistate animal welfare organization headquartered in Washington, DC, HRA is ideally situated to close the gap between DC residents and careers that will help them support themselves and their families while helping animals. In 2023, we will fully launch the Saône Crocker Animal Welfare Career Institute to create career paths for young people in animal care and welfare. Through this program, we will increase job opportunities for our community and fill a vital generational need.

As we look ahead, we see a future that is brighter than ever for animals and the people who cherish them. We couldn’t get there without your steadfast support and generosity, and we are grateful from the bottom of our hearts.



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