Shelter Saves More Lives By Actively Engaging Their Community

In Virginia, Richmond Animal Care and Control has been in the business of saving animals for 115 years. Like many open-admission shelters, their live-release rate needed improvement.  Luckily for the animals in this shelter, their most recent director, Christie Chipps Peters, came in with new ideas and a new attitude.  Working together with their RACC Foundation, these new ideas have successfully boosted their live-release rate to nearly 90%.

Peters’ bottom line for the shelter: Do everything they can “to allow people to come and take them so they leave the shelter alive.”

Tess, adoptable rottie!

The shelter used to close their doors at 5PM.  The majority of the community also works 9-to-5.  Potential adopters had no way of getting into the shelter during the week.  Simply shifting their hours of operation, keeping their doors open till 7PM during the week, and adding in weekend hours, has dramatically increased their ability to rehome their residents.

They’ve also implemented a pet retention program, so residents facing a crisis, who believe they have no choice but to turn in their animals, are now given the assistance they need to keep their pets.

Connie, adoptable!



They’ve also become pros at utilizing social media.  If they make the choice to seize a large amount of animals, they waste no time in putting the word out on their page:

“We’ve taken 40 animals, we need to find 40 of our dogs that are in house, foster homes. Can you please help?”

Peters believed that if you’re transparent with your community, the community would step up.  She explains,

“tell the truth and allow the public to see completely your operations and how you’re doing things, and ask for help.”

Russell, adoptable Himalayan!

Transparency, accountability, flexibility.  This is one shelter, and one Shelter Director, who ‘gets it.’ And these solutions are easily utilized at any shelter.

Here are links to cats and dogs like Wicket the pom featured above, currently residing at Richmond ACC.  They can be reached at (804) 646-5584.  Stop in and meet some great animals and the staff who go the extra mile.

Got a great shelter in your neighborhood?  Let us know!


Lisa Blanck

Writing articles about animals for more than 22 years, she dove into the rescue world with the onset of Hurricane Katrina. As an outspoken advocate for animals, she's covered everything from paws to hooves, fins to feathers. She was the Orlando Animal Rescue and Worldwide Animal Issues Examiner for seven years. She's always thinking pawsitive, looking for ways to improve the lives of animals. She lives with one dog, one cat and one patient human. She welcomes your suggestions and is thrilled to be part of the family!