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HRA Transport Program: Bringing animals to DC to find forever homes

Thanks to an aggressive spay/neuter initiative and successful programs and services aimed at keeping pets in the loving homes they already have, HRA, like many organizations across the country, is seeing a decline in intake locally. This naturally means there are fewer adoptable animals.

HRA has partnered with both regional and national organizations to share our resources and offer available dens in our adoption centers to dogs and cats who may otherwise not find adoptive homes in their originating communities. 

In 2018 alone, we worked with partner agencies across the country, struggling with increasing intake numbers and limited adopter pools, to transport more than 300 dogs and cats to DC. In DC, small dogs are in high demand and find homes quickly, while they could have waited for months to find a home in other regions of the country. Since they are adopted so quickly, our capacity to take in more animals in need increases.  

However, it is not just small dogs we’re bringing in. Recently, HRA welcomed more than 20 dogs from the Louisiana SPCA, one of our longest-tenured partners. Louisiana SPCA acts as a regional hub for the New Orleans area, and, in preparation for our regular transports, works closely with agencies outside their city to bring a variety of dogs and cats north to DC. The most recent transport included several dogs, large and small, of various breed mixes that are common in their area, making them less sought after by adopters there. Many on this transport had spent more than four months in their original shelters waiting for a home.  

Here in DC, these dogs are welcomed by our adopters,  and within about a week, all 23 dogs were adopted into new homes.  

HRA’s transport program extends beyond scheduled transports, and includes several intakes due to impending weather related disasters. This year has been a busy one for shelters in hurricane-prone areas, and HRA stood ready to assist. Just before Hurricane Florence hit, we reached out to Norfolk Animal Care Center, and quickly arranged to drive to Virginia and transfer in 18 animals, their entire adoption floor, in advance of the storm. This freed up space for them to assist with potential flooding of other area shelters.  

We haven’t forgotten about our partners in the Washington, DC region either. Routinely, our transport manager communicates with area shelters such as the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS), the Humane Society of Harford County, and others, working to transfer dogs and cats from our shelter to theirs and vice versa. Sometimes, an animal may be declining in care after a long stay in one shelter, and 

have the opportunity to thrive in a different environment and with an entirely new adopter population. Regular communication within our region means we often take in “one offs”, a dog or cat needing a change in scenery, the expertise of our highly passionate behavior and training department, or the resources our medical team can provide. These relationships go both ways.

Our hope for the future is to act as a hub for regional shelters, work to transfer in more animals, and assist more areas in need. Along with physically transporting animals, HRA works closely with our partners to ensure we are not acting simply as a quick fix.  

We also support our partners in addressing overpopulation in their area, with the goal that, in the future, they too can see their shelters have lower intake numbers, and an ability to assist others in the same way.


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