Some Frequently Asked Questions….

Q: What are you going to do when the shelter is full?

A: At our private shelter, as of August, we have adopted out more dogs than the City of Harrisonburg had enter the shelter over the entire year last year.  We have experience adopting animals and we know that adoption friendly policies work.  If we near capacity, we will transfer dogs and cats to one of our more than 90 active, established partners. We will also place the cats and dogs with one of our 200+ foster caregivers.


Q: What if the intake rate goes up?

A: Despite the growth that both Harrisonburg and Rockingham County have experienced in recent years, the RHSPCA has seen a 49% decrease in intake since 2005. 

Through Ancira’s philosophy - incorporating spay/neuter surgeries, community education, and stakeholder partnership s- we believe intake rates will continue to decrease.  Though it is possible that the intake rate could suddenly change and increase this is unlikely based on 12 years of data. Regardless, Anicira is prepared with more than 90 partners, hundreds of foster caregivers and extensive community volunteer network to accommodate potential increases in annual intake.


Q: If you’re against euthanasia, what are you going to do with the really sick animals?

A: We are not against humane euthanasia when it is medically or behaviorally appropriate. If a veterinarian and behavioral specialist determines that it is the best decision for that animal to euthanize him/her, that is what we will do. The no-kill movement is about not killing healthy or treatable animals, which typically means a euthanasia rate under 10%. Click here to learn more about what "no-kill" really means.

Based on the dictionary definition, euthanasia is actually defined as the "act of permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals or domesticated animals in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy."  The phrase "no-kill" may seem inflammatory but using the term euthanasia doesn’t accurately describe what is happening at the Harrisonburg shelter.

Q: What about aggressive dogs? Are you just not going to take them, or will you adopt them out?

A: Any animal that is determined to be a threat to public safety will not be adopted out. As an open admission shelter, we would not turn animals away.

There are a number of behavioral assessment models being used by successful shelters.  The assessments look at how social this animal is - does the dog or cat look to humans for affection, do they like people?  Surprisingly, that is a powerful predictor.  Beyond that, we look for aggression toward people and other animals and aggression in specific scenarios. 

We have a responsibility to protect our community, and that means euthanizing some dogs.  

Q: I've been told open admission shelters can't be no-kill. Will you pick and choose which animals you take?

The proposed shelter would be open admission for ALL cats, dogs and pocket pets including guinea pigs, rabbits, gerbils, ferrets, hamsters and more from City of Harrisonburg residents. We have numerous successful open admission, no-kill shelters in our region that are proving that it works.


Q: Will you have surrender fees or waiting lists?

A: We will not charge surrender fees nor will we have a waiting list. We have many rescue and community partnerships that if we neared capacity, we would be able to manage without having to euthanize animals or turn anyone away.

Q: Why don't you just work with the SPCA to improve their euthanasia rates?

A: With Anicira’s shelter located in the City, serving the City’s animals and the RHSPCA’s shelter located in Rockingham County, serving the County’s animals there is an opportunity to better serve all the animals in our community.  It is very possible that by significantly reducing the intake rate at the RHSPCA, it will naturally be better able to serve the animals under its care.  Dividing the responsibility of caring for so many animals is a great example of the two organizations working together to save lives.

Q: What's this about saving money?

A: Despite a significant decrease in intake, each year the RHSPCA has requested an increase in funding from the city.  In the past five years, the city budget for the animal shelter has increased more than 28% (far exceeding inflation) while the intake number has decreased by more than 20% during the same time period.In contrast, Anicira's proposal would deliver improved animal sheltering services to the city at a cost savings of 25% less than the current shelter contract in the first year of service.  Anicira would be able to do this through cost savings from having an existing facility, in-house veterinary services, extensive volunteer network including foster caregivers and community support.  These economies will allow Anicira to add a wide range of veterinary services and supplies, in addition to two full-time veterinarians on staff, and still deliver a cost savings to the city budget.  Since shelter intake rates have been decreasing annually despite Harrisonburg's growing population and Anicira is working with the community to continue to decrease intake rates, we anticipate being able to lower the budget in future contract years. 


Q: Are there any services currently provided that you wouldn't provide?

A: Anicira will provide all the services the RHSPCA is currently providing and many more. Working with Anicira as the City of Harrisonburg shelter contractor would add:

  • Veterinary care for all animals
  • Following industry best practices including spay/neuter before adoption
  • Comprehensive reunification and retention services
  • Social service and public health initiatives
  • Friendly and welcoming adoption policies
  • Data analysis
  • Lower death rate

and more!

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Harrisonburg, VA Manassas, VA