After a major fire destroyed most of our facility in 2010, the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society (BEBHS) is proud to announce that all of our programs are flourishing and we are back to the business of saving lives. Many new challenges were created by the fire, most notably the loss of crucial space to house our animals.
In 2011, we saved over 500 animals from local municipal shelters and placed them into permanent and loving homes. After a year of housing all of our dogs in foster care, we were granted access to resume use of our outdoor dog kennels in early May, which enabled us to house approximately 20 dogs and be open for dog adoptions four days a week. With our cat housing areas still unusable, we expanded our feline foster care program where all of our cats over 8 weeks of age are cared for offsite by our dedicated team of foster care volunteers and brought into the facility for adoptions on the weekends.
In September, we launched a new, one-of-a-kind program in the Bay Area – our kitten nursery! The nursery is an innovative way for us to rescue hundreds of underage felines without significantly impacting our foster program. The nursery is a separate 24/7 animal care facility exclusively for kittens under the age of 8 weeks. Trained kitten caregivers work in shifts around the clock to provide age-appropriate feeding, supportive care and socialization of kittens of various ages and developmental stages. Since the first kittens entered the nursery, we have cared for more than 40 litters of over 100 kittens that would have otherwise been euthanized. We estimate that this program will save over 500 kittens in 2012.
In addition to our adoption and shelter programs, our other programs continue to support animals within our communities. We remain the only veterinary hospital in the East Bay that exclusively serves homeless shelter animals. Our spay/neuter clinic offers affordable surgeries to low-income community members, and free surgeries for feral cats. We are committed to supporting low-income seniors and disabled persons with pets, so they will continue to benefit from the companionship and security of keeping their pet in their home. Our pet food pantry and training programs help to address key behavioral and economic reasons pets are relinquished to shelters. All of these programs have remained at the same levels as in previous years, and some (like the pet food pantry, behavior advice line, and spay/neuter clinic) nearly doubled their volume in 2011.
Now that we have resumed all of our programs, we are able to focus on our longer term plans, which will allow us to save more animals than we are currently able. We plan to move to a new location by mid-year and be operational at that site for 3-5 years. This new site will allow us to shelter more animals, enable easier public access, and will place many of our programs back under one roof. After we become functional in this new location and know that we can continue running our programs at or above our pre-fire capacity, we will begin work on the rebuilding plans for our damaged shelter. The rebuilding process will require significant planning, launching of a capital campaign to raise funds, and will take an estimated 2-4 years.
Although it will still be several years before our new facility will be a reality, we are looking ahead and setting goals for growing our services to protect and care for animals in our community along the way. We hope that you will share in our excitement about the progress we have made.
Sara Kersey directs programs at Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society and can be found with a bunch of animals all over her all of the time at (510) 845-7735 or berkeleyhumane.org.