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Humane Rescue Alliance

U.S. animal welfare organizations launch human animal support services pilot

Human Animal Support Services (HASS), a new animal welfare organizational model, will implement a new range of services for pets and people in 12 pilot cities, helping keep more animals in their homes and communities and reducing the number entering the shelter system through programs and resources. 

The ideas for HASS were born during the early days of COVID-19, as the pandemic resulted in record numbers of pets being housed in the community through pet foster care. 

“During the pandemic, we broadened the safety net for animals dramatically by asking the community for support, and they stepped up in a big way,” says Amy Zeifang, Executive Leadership Team, with Maddie’s Fund®, who is partially funding this endeavor.  “Animals are being reunited with families by community members in numbers not seen before. By keeping animals in the community and not the shelters, we’ve all realized how much better for everyone it is to focus our efforts on keeping pets and families together,” she continued. “Ninety-five percent of Americans with pets believe their pets are family members. Maddie’s Fund is proud to see our energies spent supporting that important bond.”

The HASS pilot organizations include Humane Rescue Alliance (Washington, D.C.), Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control (Charlotte, N.C.), Greenville County Animal Care (Greenville, S.C.), LifeLine Animal Project (Atlanta), Cabot Animal Resource Center (Cabot, Ark.), Kansas City Pet Project (Kansas City, Mo.), El Paso Animal Services (El Paso, Texas), Pima County Animal Care (Tucson, Ariz.), Los Angeles Animal Services (Los Angeles), Oakland Animal Services (Oakland, Calif.), Fresno Humane Animal Services (Fresno, Calif.), and San Diego Humane Society (San Diego).

“We’re bringing thought leaders and experts in the fields of human social work, public health, and animal welfare to create the community animal support centers of the future,” says Lisa LaFontaine, CEO of the Humane Rescue Alliance in Washington, D.C. and a member of the HASS executive leadership team. “The impacts of COVID-19 have accelerated our efforts to modernize animal services and we now must dedicate the immediate energy of our movement to accomplish our urgent goal.”

Thanks to support from Maddie’s Fund, South Fork Foundation, Pedigree Foundation, Petfinder, Brandywine SPCA, and Michelson Found Animals Foundation, HASS will help pilot shelters test new resources and programs. These include remote services like veterinary telehealth and text support, comprehensive stray and lost pet return services, supported self-rehoming for people who cannot keep their pets, and community-based animal protection services.  

More than 100 industry leaders including those from national organizations, shelter veterinarians, and animal shelter directors are part of this collaborative effort, with 20 additional animal shelters participating in phase two of this project in the coming months.

For more information about HASS, go to http://humananimalsupportservices.org.