Pets News

Fairfax County’s Compassionate Approach to Animal Sheltering: Insights from Director Reasa Currier

As the director of the county’s open-access shelter, Currier oversees a team that takes in around 4,500 animals annually ranging from dogs and cats to more exotic species like hedgehogs and emus, with a live release rate of over 90%.

While the work can be challenging, especially when witnessing families are forced to give up beloved pets due to economic hardships, Currier finds immense joy in facilitating adoptions, particularly those involving children.

“I think my favorite thing about my job, and for most of our staff, is just seeing adoptions. “It’s really hard to have a bad day if you go onto our adoption floor, and especially seeing children for the first time adopting a pet is amazing,” Currier said.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about unique challenges for animal shelters nationwide, with Fairfax County experiencing a 20% increase in intake compared to the previous year. Many of the animals arriving at the shelter exhibit behavioral issues or medical concerns stemming from a lack of socialization and veterinary care during the pandemic.

Undeterred, Currier and her team have embraced innovative approaches to promote adoptions and raise awareness about the shelter’s services.

One recent initiative involved dividing the shelter’s large dogs into two teams with Police Chief Davis and Fire Chief Butler leading a friendly competition to see whose team could facilitate the most adoptions. The result was a tie with 20 dogs finding forever homes in just one week.

"We want residents of Fairfax County to know that we're here for them.  And that we don't want to be the last resort, we don't want to be the last call they make when they're facing a challenge...So if you're having a bad behavior and training issue, if you 're having a medical issue, if you're struggling with accessing food for your pet--we are here to support keeping pets and their families together." -Reasa Currier, Director, Department of Animal Sheltering

Currier also highlighted the recent opening of the shelter’s second location in Lorton, which has been met with overwhelming enthusiasm from the local community.

“We’ve just had that level of excitement from the community,” she said, noting the influx of new volunteers and visitors eager to support the shelter’s mission.

Lorton is already hosting scouting groups and kicking off new programs.

“We have so many scouts coming in and wanting to do scout projects and to support the animals. And we just recently launched our reading tales program at Lorton, where children get to come in and read a bedtime story to one of our pets.”

CONNECT WITH THE COUNTY LEADERS PODCAST

The “Connect with County Leaders” podcast is a monthly opportunity to meet and connect with Fairfax County leaders, to learn about the latest county news and information, and hear more about specific programs and services in Fairfax County. Listen or watch past episodes of “Connect with County Leaders” on SoundCloud, on YouTube and on Channel 16’s podcast on demand page.

For other Fairfax County podcasts, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/podcasts, and for additional audio content, tune in to Fairfax County Government Radio at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/radio.

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