• Susan Houser

Worth Watching — Orange County, VA


[NOTE: The Worth Watching category lists communities whose animal shelter systems are doing substantially better than average, but have not reported a sustained (for one year or more) 90%+ live release rate. These communities are not counted in the running total in the blog’s subtitle. For more about the Worth Watching category, see the Worth Watching page link in the blog’s header.]

Orange County is in a rural area of Virginia that is noted for its Civil War historical sites. The county, which is about 2 hours southwest of Washington, DC, has a population of over 33,000 people. Its county seat is the town of Orange.

The Orange County Animal Shelter (OCAS) is a municipal agency that provides animal sheltering for the county (animal control is provided by a separate county agency).  The shelter takes in owner surrenders from county residents without restriction, although it does ask residents to provide records and information for surrendered pets. The Orange County Humane Society is a local rescue that works with OCAS, helping with offsite adoptions, transfers, and spay-neuter.

OCAS, like other municipal shelters in Virginia, is required to report its statistics yearly to the Virginia Department of Agriculture. According to the reports it has submitted, OCAS has had a live release rate of over 80% for several years. See the links for the reports for 2008, 2009, and 2010. In 2011, the live release rate was 84% (81% with animals who died in shelter care included). In 2012, the live release rate improved to 87% (85% with animals who died in shelter care included).

OCAS relies heavily on transfers to maintain its live release rate. In 2012, for example, it transferred 562 animals out of a total intake of 2210, with 369 animals going to out-of-state rescues. This is not unusual in Virginia, which is located on I-95, a major transport route to northeast cities and New England.

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