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We were saddened and disheartened by Annys Shin’s unfair and gratuitous attack on the work of the Washington Humane Society (“Heel Thyself,” 3/26).
As all of our donors, adopters, volunteers, and supporters know, the Washington Humane Society has worked for more than a hundred years to protect our city’s most helpless citizens: its sick, injured, unwanted, and abused animals. Over that long and proud history, the society has been guided by a single mission: to improve the welfare of the animals in our city.
Thanks to the hard work of staff and volunteers, we’ve made great progress. Since we started running the D.C. Animal Shelter in 1980, our adoption rate has skyrocketed, our euthanasia rate has fallen, and thousands of unwanted animals have been rescued from neglectful and perilous conditions and given a second chance for a better life with loving new families.
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Unfortunately, your article buried those decades of civic contribution under a bewildering hodgepodge of ancient bureaucratic disputes, false charges, and deliberate half-truths. While a point-by-point rebuttal would require more space than the original article, there is one issue that demands correction.
The Washington Humane Society is committed to providing the highest level of care for every animal in our charge. We provide food, shelter, medical attention, and compassion for every animal that comes through our doors, and any visitor to our facilities—both past and present—would be impressed by the dedication and commitment of the staff and the exemplary care for the animals. Any accusation that Humane Society staff would knowingly allow an animal to suffer is both false and defamatory and must be repudiated.
A more unfortunate note of accuracy in the article was the sad truth that the relationship between the D.C. government and the Washington Humane Society was, for many years, a contentious one. What the article neglected to mention, however, is that the same relationship is currently as strong and positive as it has ever been—in no small part due to the clarification of roles and the improved lines of communication that grew from the contract process.
We are excited and pleased at the renaissance in our relationship with the District government, and with our partners there, we are building an ambitious agenda to continue to increase adoptions, reduce euthanasia, and provide such new and enhanced services as low-cost microchipping and vaccinations. We are optimistic about the future of our relationship with the city, and we believe our partners in the D.C. government are equally so.
We are not trying to say that we have been perfect in doing our job. As a small, underfunded, and often overwhelmed nonprofit, we have sometimes made mistakes, and there have clearly been times when we could have done our job better. Our goal, however, is to learn from those experiences, so we can continue to improve the way we serve the animals and people of the District of Columbia. We hope that all of our friends in the city, and in the city government, will continue to support us in that effort.
Washington Humane Society