The Future of Animal Rescue
Eight years ago, when I joined the Washington Animal Rescue League as medical director, I never thought I would end up in the commercial real estate business. Now, eight years and a new decade later, that’s exactly where a great deal of my time has been spent. Last week, the League embarked on the largest project we’ve ever taken on—we became the proud owners of the 42,000-square-foot property adjacent to our shelter, in which we plan to build the future of animal rescue.
We won’t get there next month, or next year, or in the immediate few years after that, but we’re on the way.
As the League nears its centennial in 2014, we will begin a capital campaign to build the rehabilitation facility that homeless animals so desperately need. It will become the National Rehabilitation Center for Animals. And even more than that. As we’ve done so many times in the past, we’ll be building a new future both for animals in our own community, and for animals suffering from the abuses of hoarders, dog fighters, and puppy mill operators all over the country.
And, given the lessons this turbulent spring taught us, the Center will also become a safe haven for the tragic animal victims of the more and more frequent natural disasters around the country.
But our primary focus will always be on our own community. We know we have work to do right here in our own backyard. We must ensure that we will still—and forever—be able to support the local community: animal guardians in our own neighborhoods, as well as partner shelters in the area who may need our assistance. We want them to know that we will always be here to help them with overcrowding and medical assistance.
The same goes for our low-income veterinary clients. The new Center will allow us to offer more much-needed low-cost services for the local community. Something that is so desperately needed, especially with an economy that seems to refuse to improve.
Part one of our plan will be to move and expand some administrative and training programs into the south side of the building. At the same time, we will be leasing out the remainder of the building to cover the mortgage. This will give us time to raise the funds to create the National Rehabilitation Center for Animals. And to continue our work right here at the shelter we’re already so proud of.
If someone asked me, “Is this the best time to plan an expansion?” I would answer with an emphatic “yes,” in spite of the economy. Because we so urgently need it. Is it the easiest time? Of course not. But that has never been a good reason not to move forward.
A year ago we had a choice: remain the same and offer as much as we can to as many as we can, all the time knowing there are thousands more out there who also need our help. Or grow and build a facility that can actually help solve the most pressing problems in animal welfare and veterinary medicine, offering medical and behavioral help and homes to the most disenfranchised in the nation. We chose the latter.
Last week we got the keys to our future. I hope you’ll be interested in hearing how the project is going. Call or email me for details or for a tour of the future of animal rescue. It’s now right next door.