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ASPCA Launches National Relocation Program for Shelter Animals

“Animal Relocation Initiative” Begins with Transport of Dogs, Cats from Regions Affected by Floods, Tornados
May 10, 2011

NEW YORK--The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today announced the launch of its national Animal Relocation Initiative for shelter animals, which began with 46 dogs from shelters in eastern Arkansas that traveled westward over the weekend to make room for animals displaced by recent flooding, and continued on Monday with over 70 additional dogs from tornado-affected areas in Georgia and South Carolina going to shelters in the northeast. This morning, 15 dogs and 10 cats from shelters in a flood-affected region of Mississippi were loaded onto a trailer headed for West Palm Beach, Fla., and additional relocation efforts for animals in other affected areas are in the works.

The dogs and cats will be made available for adoption following their arrivals at the various destination shelters. Dogs from the initial relocation efforts traveled from Eastern Arkansas to shelters in Kansas and Colorado, and those from Georgia and South Carolina were sent to shelters in New York and New Jersey. The animals are being transported in climate controlled vehicles.

"Our new Animal Relocation Initiative will establish a national network that facilitates the transfer of animals and build a professional collective engaged in the issue of relocation," said Ed Sayres, president and CEO of the ASPCA. "We also intend to develop flexible, scalable relocation programs that assure animals are moving the shortest distance possible."

The ASPCA's Animal Relocation Initiative moves animals from areas of oversupply to areas where there are few, if any, similar pets available in shelters for adoption. In these first cases, the ASPCA's Field Investigation and Response Team has been deployed to areas where a large-scale disaster recovery effort is in progress, and the Animal Relocation Initiative is supporting those efforts, working with a network of agencies willing to receive and house animals that already exist in the community's sheltering system.

"Our new program is all about supply and demand," said Sandy Monterose, the ASPCA's senior director of community outreach. "We will be exporting animals--safely, efficiently and humanely--from crowded shelters to regions where space is available. In this case, moving current shelter animals out of the affected area increases the ability of local organizations to help animals that need to be rescued or sheltered until they can be reunited with their families.

"The help we received from the ASPCA was integral in getting our adoptable shelter animals to reputable placement partners," said Kim Adkins, adoption coordinator for the Humane Society of Eastern Arkansas/West Memphis Animal Services. "This allowed us to turn our attention and resources to those animals stranded or abandoned by evacuees, and those in imminent need within our community."

More than half of the four million dogs entering animal shelters each year are euthanized, many simply for lack of space. "A natural disaster like flooding creates immediate hardship in a community," said Monterose. "We want to ensure that any displaced animals receive appropriate attention, without compromising the care and eventual adoption of existing animals." She added, "By collaborating with other groups and using our resources strategically, we can respond to shelters and animals in need, creating a safety net. It's part of the fabric of animal sheltering."