Month: November 2011

A Shelter of Hope

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The Allegany County Animal Shelter is approaching it’s 1 year anniversary which will be celebrated on 11/29/11. We went from a municipal County Shelter to The Shelter of Hope, from a 86% kill rate to a 93% live release rate. One year ago, the Shelter was a high efficient killing machine, a slaughterhouse where an animal was killed every 2 hours.

As in many rural communities, people usually didn’t know or didn’t care much about the on goings in the local Animal Shelter. That is, until the day the senseless killing was made public and the Shelter management resigned a short time later. Dick Devore, Chief of Public Works and overseeing County Government body of the Animal Shelter, put a stop on all euthanization. From this day on animals are only being euthanized if they are to aggressive, to sick for treatment or if the euthanization is ordered by the Health Department. The result of this action is a 93% live release rate for the last 12 month.

A Volunteer group was build to take care of the animals with the goal to safe the animals and care for them instead of killing them. Many times did we hear (and sometimes still hear) “that will never work” or “you can not do that”. Well, it did work and yes, we did do it.

A new Shelter Manager, Karl Brubaker, was hired and took over the Shelter operation in the beginning of April 2011, continuing the life saving work. The Shelter now has a extensive Foster program, off site adoptions and even more important the Shelter received tremendous support of the community.

One thing is sticking out by the people that are working, volunteering and supporting the Shelter: they value life and do everything possible to save life:

In the words of Karl Brubaker, Shelter Manager:

“We’ve done amazing work in a year’s time, but the struggle for where we ultimately want to be is not over and that it truly never ends. Our commitment has to be to constantly improve, constantly seek something better, and constantly find new ways to save animals’ lives. Hard to believe it’s been nearly a year, but it’s an amazing thing. I would have never thought it possible if we hadn’t just lived through it. For me personally, I truly feel the hand of God upon our shelter.”

And County Commissioner Bill Valentine stated:

“I am thrilled at the progress made with our animal shelter, now truly a shelter, no-longer a slaughter house.”

Shelter Manager Karl Brubaker, Animal Control Officer Aaron Alt and Volunteer/No Kill Advocat Jodi Criser Sweitzer on the way to the 2011 No Kill Conference.






It has been an amazing year for everybody involved and nothing could be more satisfying than seeing a Shelter evolving like this, in to a Shelter of Hope. Every day is a new challenge for the Shelter and every day new solutions are being found. One of the biggest challenge of course is the physical limitation of the current facility, a facility that was designed to kill animals in the most efficient way. Currently the Animal Shelter Foundation, a non profit organization, together with the County Government is planning on building a new Shelter/Adoption Center and a possible location has been identified. The next year will be even more exciting as the previous year and I’m proud to be part of the progress. The road to “No Kill” is long and it is hard work. Our tears, sweat and blood is in that Shelter and we never gave up the fight. Other communities did it before us, many others will follow us.

We are the Shelter of Hope, where every animal deserves a chance.