IRHS is an all volunteer, non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization. Our mission is to improve the animal welfare by ensuring the humane care and treatment of animals in King William, Essex and King & Queen County. Since 1996, IRHS has been able to save hundreds of animals from euthanization.
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The History of Indian Rivers Humane Society
By IRHS Volunteer Jeanne Smith
Indian Rivers Humane Society came into existence in 1996 out of the conversations of interested citizens of King William County. People were tired of hunting dogs roaming their property with the owners never interested enough to claim them. They were tired of other cats and dogs being dropped off on county roads with the hope that someone would take them in. And they were tired of people that continued to allow their animals to breed freely, producing many unwanted puppies and kittens. On their own, these kind, caring people were taking these strays into their homes or trying to find other homes for them.
Finally, two of these people began serious discussions of organizing a group to help the animal population in the area. An organizational meeting was arranged, advertised people, and held in June of 1996 at King William High School. More than 30 interested people came to that first meeting. There were many different expectations and agendas that these first volunteers had in mind, but all was to benefit the unwanted animals and the community. From this first meeting, the Indian Rivers Humane Society began to take shape.
The very first event for the Indian Rivers Humane Society was participation in the Walkerton Day event for that year. The event was hugely successful and there was much public interest and support shown.
Since that summer of 1996, IRHS has flourished, learning from other like organizations, from its success, and from its mistakes. Volunteers have come and gone, each leaving something of themselves from which the organization has grown.
There are currently 27 active volunteers in the society. These volunteers participate as they are able and have the time. Major volunteer activities include providing foster care (safe housing) for rescued animals until a suitable home is found, participating in weekly adoption stands, organizing and participating in special events, writing articles or advertisements, public relations and fund raising activities, and developing educational programs for the schools and citizenry.
The mission of IRHS is to improve the animal welfare in King William, King & Queen and Essex and to ensure the humane care and treatment of animals. IRHS assists the Animal Control Department of the counties in this endeavor. IRHS also helps to reunite lost or stray pets with their owners and place unwanted animals in loving homes through the adoption program. Since 1996, IRHS has been able to save hundreds of animals from being euthanized. This represents over half of the stray and unwanted animals that have been picked up by Animal Control in King William and King & Queen County. Currently, eleven members from King William, King & Queen and Essex counties have opened their homes to provide foster care for these animals until they are adopted. We average 10-15 animals monthly that are in custody and place approximately 125 per year. We have seen a rise in adoptions since doing adoption stands at local pet stores.
One of the most recent accompliments of IRHS has been the success of the pound rescue team. The team consists of three members. These volunteers visit the local pound at least three times a week in order to collect photos and data on each homeless pet. Afterwards, this information is shared, via email, with a large distribution list consisting of other rescue groups. They also post the list on various animal rescue sites like Petfinder.com. Occasionally, the team will assist with transporting the rescued animals to various locations throughout Virginia and even out-of-state. Since beginning in late 2005, the team has been able to significantly decrease the euthanization rate. For example, in 2004, 198 dogs out of 370 were euthanized where as in 2005, 87 dogs out of 503 and in 2006, only 18 dogs out of 404 were euthanized. Many of these euthanization in 2005-06 were due in part to either severe health issues or aggressive behavior.
The society also works within the community to distribute educational materials on animal care and prevention of abuse. Much emphasis is also placed on the need for sterilization to eliminate the proliferation of unwanted animals. This is accomplished through the use of educational brochures and a low-cost spay/neuter program, which was originally established with a generous donation from Golden Cat. We currently rely on funding efforts and donations to continue this program.
There is much more that needs to be done in the community to continue realizing the mission of the organization. The organization depends entirely on private donations to provide the funding necessary to accomplish its goals. Only with more volunteers and additional corporate and individual funding will these goals begin to become a reality.
IRHS Rescue: "Nigel"
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