U.S. Animal Welfare Organizations Launch Human Animal Support Services Pilot


LA Animal Services Media Contacts:
Agnes Sibal-von Debschitz, (213) 482-9512 or agnes.sibal@lacity.org
Justin Khosrowabadi, (213) 482-9551 or justin.khosrowabadi@lacity.org

Maddie’s Fund Media Contact:
Bobby Mann, Maddie’s® Pilot Implementation Director, 916-667-2524 or Bobby.Mann@americanpetsalive.org

U.S. Animal Welfare Organizations Launch Human Animal Support Services Pilot

Los Angeles, June 23, 2020 — Human Animal Support Services (HASS), a new animal welfare organizational model, will implement a new range of services for pets and people in 12 pilot cities, helping keep more animals in their homes and communities and reducing the number entering the shelter system through programs and resources.

The ideas for HASS were born during the early days of COVID-19, as the pandemic resulted in record numbers of pets being housed in the community through pet foster care.

“During the pandemic, we broadened the safety net for animals dramatically by asking the community for support, and they stepped up in a big way,” says Amy Zeifang, Executive Leadership Team, with Maddie’s Fund®, who is partially funding this endeavor.  “Animals are being reunited with families by community members in numbers not seen before. By keeping animals in the community and not the shelters, we’ve all realized how much better for everyone it is to focus our efforts on keeping pets and families together,” she continued. “Ninety-five percent of Americans with pets believe their pets are family members. Maddie’s Fund is proud to see our energies spent supporting that important bond.”

The HASS pilot organizations include Humane Rescue Alliance (Washington, D.C.), Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control (Charlotte, N.C.), Greenville County Animal Care (Greenville, S.C.), LifeLine Animal Project (Atlanta), Cabot Animal Resource Center (Cabot, Ark.), Kansas City Pet Project (Kansas City, Mo.), El Paso Animal Services (El Paso, Texas), Pima County Animal Care (Tucson, Ariz.), LA Animal Services (Los Angeles), Oakland Animal Services (Oakland, Calif.), Fresno Humane Animal Services (Fresno, Calif.), and San Diego Humane Society (San Diego).

“In March as the COVID pandemic hit California, we were able to get more than 3,200 companion animals out of our Animal Services Centers and into homes,” said Brenda Barnette, General Manager of LA Animal Services. “This was made possible thanks to the amazing support of Angelenos who stepped up to adopt and foster. Then we could temporarily close two of our shelters to keep our staff and the community as safe as possible while giving our shelter guests the care and enrichment they need and deserve.”

By meeting weekly with the leaders from Maddie’s Fund, Found Animals, American Pets Alive, HASS, and the 12 pilot organizations from across the United States, we are able to visualize what sheltering can be going forward. We will focus on getting pets home safely with them never having to spend the night in a shelter; we will have a pathway plan with positive outcomes for each animal when they enter the shelter; the majority of pets will benefit from foster care and will spend little or no time in the shelters; animal protection and public safety will be aimed to address the root causes of animals problems, and more. The core functions of the shelter will be to provide emergency medical care and short-term housing for pets with urgent needs and to ensure public safety. Fewer animals in shelters does not mean fewer services. We will evaluate each of our programs and further evaluate how we can do more to better serve our companion animals and the people who love them.

Thanks to support from Maddie’s Fund, South Fork Foundation, Pedigree Foundation, Petfinder, Brandywine SPCA, and Michelson Found Animals Foundation, HASS will help pilot shelters test new resources and programs. These include remote services like veterinary telehealth and text support, comprehensive stray and lost pet return services, supported self-rehoming for people who cannot keep their pets, and community-based animal protection services.  

More than 100 industry leaders including those from national organizations, shelter veterinarians, and animal shelter directors are part of this collaborative effort, with 20 additional animal shelters participating in phase two of this project in the coming months.

For more information about HASS, go to http://humananimalsupportservices.org


Los Angeles Department of Animal Services is one of the largest municipal shelter systems in the United States with six services centers serving approximately 60,000 animals annually and responding to 20,000 emergency calls involving an animal or person in danger. LA Animal Services promotes and protects the health, safety, and welfare of animals and people. Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Human Animal Support Services (HASS) is a national coalition of animal shelter leaders and 12 pilot organizations transforming the sheltering system through innovative programs and services. The initiatives of HASS focus on keeping pets and their people together, placing pets out of the shelter and in foster homes and creating collaborative programs and partnerships that serve as community-wide resources.


HASS is a community collaboration led by American Pets Alive! and powered by incredible partners. For more information about HASS, go to http://humananimalsupportservices.org



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