The mission of The Commonwealth Humane Society is to provide for the welfare, shelter and adoption of homeless cats and kittens, dogs and puppies; to promote the responsible care of companion animals; and to actively promote spaying and neutering as the most humane means of animal control. While we previously focused on rescuing cats and kittens, we now also assist homeless dogs and puppies.
Commonwealth Humane Society’s program expenses are funded by adoption fees, by donations from the general public and modest sums from organizations like Petco, PetSmart and local businesses.
All our activities are conducted by the officers, directors, and volunteers of Commonwealth Humane Society, and take place in Northern Virginia, primarily Fairfax County, and elsewhere wherever need is established. Operations are via our websites (www.petfinder.com/shelters/VA393.html), Commonwealth Humane Society and at events throughout the community.
The first phase of any adoption begins long before the family learns about their new pet. Frequently it starts with a plea, often by e-mail from folks trying desperately to save the lives of cats and dogs on death row, often in a shelter down south. Commonwealth works with carefully chosen enthusiasts to identify animals suitable for adoption in the Washington Metropolitan area. Photographs and bio’s are exchanged and here comes the tough part. Of the hundreds of animals offered almost daily, we get to pick only as many as we can accommodate.
Once a selection is made, our representatives pull the lucky animals from the shelter and place them into our
pipeline. The animals are first placed in a boarding facility where shots and deworming take place. The animals are observed and treated for a variety of ailments and conditions and only after 21 days of strict quarantine, are they ready for transport. Even then there is one more step. Just a day or two before the planned transport, the animals are taken to the vet where they are examined for a health certificate. If required, rabies vaccinations are given and any health concerns noted and passed on to us. Once the animals are “Certified” as being healthy and ready for transport, they are handed over to a quality transport, one that follows OTRA rules, or in some cases, a volunteer, who also must follow the rules. Medical paperwork stays with each animal and we ensure that all state and federal rules are adhered to. Upon arrival here in Northern Virginia, the animals are bedded down, fed and watered and left to rest and recover from the trip. A light diet is given the first day and if all is well, normal feeding starts on day two. The animals are observed for several days and the medical paperwork is checked. If and only if all is in good order, then the animals are considered ready for adoption.
Another aspect of Commonwealth’s rescue effort is to act as a conduit for other rescues and to save animals
that are then passed onto them for placement into forever homes. This is always done with the greatest care and we
are very careful with whom we work, both on the intake side, and also with outbound animals.
Adoption is the main goal of the Commonwealth Humane Society. Nothing else can continue for long unless and until an adoption takes place. As a committed “No Kill” rescue, each and every animal that comes under our care stays with us until placed in a forever home. Our adoption events take place in a wide range of venues, including Southern States Retail Stores, Petco, and other locations, whenever opportunity allows. We also take full advantage of PetFinder.Com, which has proven to be a great source of quality adoptions.
Our adoption procedures are amongst the most modern and technically advanced in the rescue industry. Whenever
possible, we use technology to solve resource restraints and provide speedy same day adoptions. However, in
the end, the final decision is always made by a human, where personal experience plays a vital role in the decision process.
At Commonwealth, we focus a great deal of time and effort in preparing our animals for adoption. Socialization and health being two of the top items on our list. We deem it vital that all our adoptions provide a long lasting, quality relationship with their adoptive families, and to achieve that takes some special effort and careful planning.
Commonwealth is an all volunteer organization and other than some minor casual labor, everyone is an unpaid volunteer. We recruit volunteers from many sources, Volunteer Fairfax, The National Charity League, and also some carefully selected individuals from the Fairfax Court system. Many of our volunteers come from local high schools, who serve their community service hours helping animals.
We are also proud to note that we provide training in shelter care for disabled individuals, such as those with autism, and other medical conditions that make it difficult for them to get a start in life. Often the unrestricted love of an animal can work wonders with the disabled. Without our volunteers, we could not function. With them, the animals have a chance in life.
Commonwealth is known far and wide for its willingness to take on difficult or even impossible cases. Animals suffering from severe injuries, like Bart with his back legs severely damaged by a vehicle, Tiny Tim a kitten with spinal injuries that eventually took his life, and Ruth the Shepherd momma dog that was slowly being starved to death while she tried to feed her pups, get a second chance. We could not do our best without the support of people like Susan, the nationally recognized Kitten Mom, and let us never forget Dr. Alex Colvin of the Burke Animal Hospital, who always goes the extra mile in providing support for the rescue community.
Rehabilitation is not cheap and we are always limited by the funds available to us. At Commonwealth, we understand that we must live in the real world and that may mean having to say no on occasion.
One additional aspect of our work is that of The Virtual Adoption. In this way, we help place animals that we do
not have room to house, animals possibly from foreclosed homes, sudden and urgent relocations, and a myriad of other reasons people are forced to surrender their much loved animals.
At Commonwealth, we also pride ourselves on the level of outreach we provide to the community. This includes education and training especially for the disadvantaged and disabled. We also constantly seek new tools and products that will make life easier and rescue more efficient for members of the community. We are always willing to share our knowledge and the tools and techniques we have created or just simply learned about from others, many of whom have been in rescue many years longer than us.
Commonwealth also provides community support for animals in need. If an animal belonging to a family need’s food or medical care, we often provide the needed support, and while our resources are limited, our generosity is not. In addition, we are the founders of “The Spay Shuttle” program, designed to provide low cost Spay/ Neuter services at first rate animal hospitals initially in the Northern Virginia area. Low cost professional testing by a nationally recognized test lab is scheduled to be announced in August 2010. Next and soon to be announced will be a food bank for animals. The need never seems to end, but together we can achieve a lot, one cat, one kitten, one dog and one puppy at a time and for that animal that is the difference between life and death, between suffering and a happy healthy life.