We were pleased to have the opportunity to sit down with Amy McCracken from the Richmond Animal League. RAL is one of the oldest no kill animal shelters in Richmond Virginia.
BestBullys: Hello Amy, We are pleased you were able to take the time from your busy schedule to be able to talk to us today.
Amy: It’s my pleasure. I love talking about Richmond Animal League any chance I get.
BestBullys: RAL has such as great reputation in the Metro Richmond Area.
Can you give us a little bit of information on how the organization got started?
Amy: A group of good Samaritans formed RAL in 1979. A small parcel of land was rented, rudimentary kennels were set up, and volunteers took care of the animals that were housed there until permanent homes could be found. Animals were also being fostered by volunteers in their homes. When the landowner sold the property to a developer, RAL volunteers had to come up with another plan. The animals were all placed in foster homes, and the Board of Directors began raising funds for a permanent shelter. Six years later, ground was broken for what is our current shelter on International Drive in Chesterfield County. There have been many changes over the years, including increased adoptions and a new spay/neuter clinic onsite, but we have never changed our core mission of SAVING LIVES: providing hope, help, and homes for animals in need. Our founders embraced the no-kill philosophy from the start, and we are grateful for their belief that no-kill is achievable and sustainable.
BestBullys: What do you do with the animals that come in with sickness or physical problems (ex. fleas, heat worms, infections, etc.) ? Do you personally neuter/spay the pets?
Amy: We treat all sorts of maladies here. It’s important to understand how animals get to RAL. Our Director of Kennel Operations, Pam Bridgmon, transfers animals from municipal shelters that are not no-kill. We work closely with Chesterfield, Powhatan, Petersburg, Caroline, Prince George, Richmond, and other shelters. As space becomes available due to adoptions, Pam fills those spaces with animals from municipal shelters—many of them at the end of the time they can spend at those shelters. Some are healthy and just need a good bath and a proper diet. Many need much more. We transfer animals that have mange, fleas and ticks, heartworms, kennel cough, upper respiratory infections, etc. We will also pull animals that have broken bones due to being hit by a car. We get them healthy and happy, and make them available for adoption.
NO ANIMAL goes to a new home without being spayed or neutered. In fact, Richmond Animal League ensures that not only for our pets, but for animals that are adopted by Chesterfield County Animal Control and Prince George Animal Control. Our clinic, the Loving Spay & Neuter Clinic, does all of the surgeries right here. We have a transport driver who picks up animals from Chesterfield and Prince George, brings them to the clinic for a big day, and takes them back again in the afternoon. The adopter is no longer responsible for having the pet spayed/neutered at a private vet, and no unwanted litters are born. It’s a good deal! Dr. Laura Drinkwine does as an average of 20 surgeries a day here at the clinic.
BestBullys: Approximately how many pets are sheltered at RAL?
Amy: We house about 30 dogs on any given day, and can have as many as 3 litters of puppies. We have between 60-80 cats. During kitten season this year, we took in more than 270 kittens. Many of them stay in foster care until they are old enough to be spayed/neutered and receive their vaccinations. It’s always a party here.
BestBullys: What different breeds are taken in, and what is the age range of the animals?
Amy: We get all types of cats and dogs. We see a lot of hound dogs, and animals range in age. We take in very young animals that may require bottle feedings. We have very special fosters who help with this. We also won’t leave an animal at a pound simply because they are old—even though sometimes senior animals are overlooked when adopters come in. We love our senior cats and dogs and promote them all we can.
We do not kennel a lot of pit bulls—we have a very special program for them. Pit bulls get very stressed in a kennel environment, and the best place for them is in a loving foster home. We’ve started a program called Gracie’s Guardians to help with pit bull education, care, and adoption. The volunteers who lead Gracie’s Guardians are a wonderful group of knowledgeable pit bull lovers who help find the best home for these special dogs. The program is named after Gracie, a former Michael Vick dog who now lives in the lap of luxury with the President of our board, Sharon Cornett.
BestBullys: Is it easy to adopt?
Amy: Yes! We have an application process that we are always working on to make sure that the new owners are matched up with the best possible animal for them. While we don’t do home visits, we do still call references, and sometimes landlords, before approving an application. We know how exciting it is to adopt a new pet, and we try to get the applications approved as soon as possible so that the new beginning can get started!
BestBullys: If some of our readers would like to volunteer or send in a donations what would be the best way for them to proceed.
Amy: We have a wonderful Volunteer Coordinator, Cynthia Reed, who makes sure that all of our animals basic needs are taken care of. Cynthia can be reached at email@example.com. Donations can be made online by visiting www.ral.org or, even better, come and see us! We would love to give you a tour of the facility. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a visit!
BestBullys: Thank you Amy.