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Charlottesville SPCA wins grant to help find homes for senior dogs

Charlottesville’s animal shelter has received a five-figure grant that it says is already being used to help find new homes for senior dogs.

A pool of 370 applicants attempted to get a grant from the Grey Muzzle Organization, a national nonprofit that has doled out nearly $5 million in grants over 15 years in its mission to create “a world where no old dog dies alone and afraid,” according to a statement.

This year, the organization divvied out $848,000 in grants to 90 animal welfare groups.

The Charlottesville-Albemarle Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals received $10,000.

“I would like to think we were selected because we have a good reputation for animal care and that we have been recipients in the past,” interim Executive Director Sue Friedman told The Daily Progress. “We’ve been able to show good outcome and impact. In fact, already two senior dogs who were with us at our shelter have been adopted.”

Friedman said the funds helped facilitate those adoptions.

Many senior dogs come to the shelter after years of the comforts of a home, she said.

“They’re used to being on someone’s lap or next to someone on a sofa, so they’re quite sad and very confused when they arrive,” Friedman said.

The goal then is to get the dog out of the shelter and into a forever home within a few days instead of weeks.

“A week is long time if you’ve spent eight years on someone’s sofa,” Friedman said.

The new funding allows the shelter to quickly get dogs medical attention, whether it’s a major surgery or a simple checkup. That way a person interested in adopting will have the reassurance that their new pet is in good health and won’t require big medical expenses.

“It allowed us not to have to consider our budget and just do what needed to be done and do it very quickly,” Friedman said of the two most recent senior dog adoptions, who both needed minor medical attention.

The award is a bright spot for an organization that has been marred in controversy this year.

Former Executive Director Angie Gunter was put on leave in April after accusations of mismanagement and misconduct.

A group of past and present shelter works, calling itself CASPCA Concerns, claimed that Gunter’s leadership resulted in poor conditions and care for the animals, overcapacity and understaffing, lack of transparency and collaboration, and low morale and high turnover among staff and volunteers.

Animals were kept in unsafe living conditions and their carers overworked in order to keep adoption rates high and contributions rolling in, the group said.

In February, a state Department of Agriculture inspection found multiple documents at the shelter were missing information required by law. But the report mentioned no evidence of animal abuse, neglect or other mistreatment.

Gunter was replaced by Friedman in May.

Since Friedman’s appointment, the local SPCA has made several changes to operations, bringing on more top brass to help oversee foster, adoption, intake and rescue-transfer operations and changing its hours to allow more time for staff training, development and facility cleaning.

Despite the allegations made by CASPCA Concerns, the Grey Muzzle Organization found that the Charlottesville shelter scored high enough by its metrics to receive a grant for the third time in four years.

“We do a very comprehensive review process,” Grey Muzzle Executive Director Lisa Lunghofer told The Daily Progress. “We rate each of the applications on the evaluation criteria that’s on our website.”

That criteria includes “measurable results” such as the annual increase in the number of senior dogs adopted, the decrease in time of adoptions and the increase in the number of dogs who receive health screenings and preventative treatment, according to the group’s website.

“They did a good job in their application,” Lunghofer said, adding that the grant must be used for medical care.

Like humans, Friedman said that a dog’s body begins to wear down as it ages. That means they often require different degrees of treatment.

“The grant allows us not be concerned about going over our veterinary medical budget and we can do what we need to do to return the animal to good health and find its second forever home,” she said.


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