By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press
LYNDHURST — Then there were two.
The Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center is a little quiet right now after two dogs were left on Saturday, including one in a foster home.
“[On Saturday,] our last dog ended up leaving the building,” said SVASC Director Hannah Richardson on Monday.
On Sunday, two other dogs had been on stray hold which ended and both are now available for adoption.
“Our dog intakes usually fluctuate,” Richardson said.
However, the shelter, which serves as the area’s animal shelter for strays, hoarding situations and animal control, typically has an average of 10 to 20 dogs in kennels barking and requesting attention from staff for walks and meals.
“We’ve never been this low on dogs,” Richardson said.
The shelter still has some cats, but some have been adopted out in recent weeks.
“My staff has put in so much effort in marketing the animals,” Richardson said of the shelter’s secret to adoption success, which she said began last year with “amping up our social media game.”
“Just anything we can do to get the animals out faster,” she said.
The animal shelter at 1001 Mt. Torrey Road has been open by appointment only since the lockdown last March put in place for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Richardson said that individuals interested in adopting, even if they are unsure of which animal, are asked to submit an application for adoption online. Then staff will review the application within 48 business hours and get in touch to schedule an adoption appointment.
“It’s powerful evidence of the commitment of the employees, and love of animals in our community,” said Waynesboro City Manager Mike Hamp of the animal shelter’s success in having only two dogs.
Richardson said achieving that goal is “amazing.”
“I mean it’s pretty good. I know my team and my staff have worked really hard,” she said.
An animal shelter can be a stressful environment — for both staff and the animals.
“It’s so great to have this positive thing happen,” Richardson said. She added that something like this improves staff morale when it comes to their mission to get animals adopted and find loving forever homes.
The empty dog kennels, according to Richardson, are giving staff an opportunity right now to deep clean the kennels and prepare for when the next wave of dogs comes in.
“There’s never been a rhyme or reason to it,” Richardson, who has been director for a year and a half, said.
Between taking in animals from hoarding situations, animals brought in by animal control and strays, the shelter’s staff never knows what tomorrow may bring.
“So, I can’t say for sure we won’t be full tomorrow for some reason,” Richardson said.