One year ago yesterday, Neil Trent joined AWLA as its new Executive Director. To mark the occasion, Arlington-based animal welfare advocate Debbie Marson sent the following letter to the Arlington County Board.
September 13, 2011
Today is a momentous day — Neil Trent started at the AWLA one year ago. And the animal lovers, animal advocates and the animals of Arlington could not be happier.
In his short tenure, Neil has significantly reduced the shelter’s euthanasia rate. He ended the fiscal year with an impressive 91% success rate for dogs and 85% for cats. But the 1st quarter of FY 2012 is even better. The success rate for this quarter is 95% for dogs and 91% for cats. For those of you who don’t know what the success rate is, it is the “live release” rate. This means, for example, that 95% of all dogs who entered the shelter between 7/1/2011 and today, came out alive. This compares to about 80% success rate for dogs in FY 2010 and 70% for cats. This is an amazing accomplishment in such a short period of time and one that Neil should be incredibly proud of. I know that I could not be happier with his efforts, dedication and results.
Neil has implemented many new programs and taken many steps in order to reduce the euthanasia. In addition to his new programs like, implementing TNR, adding a vet clinic and a new vet and waiving adoption fees for older cats, he has reached out to and embraced the local animal community. Not only has he met repeatedly with animal advocates, he has taken our suggestions and quickly implemented many of them. He has changed the shelter’s reputation to one of being friendly to the animal community and to being progressive and proactive in saving lives. I can now say that not only am I a donor but have encouraged others to support AWLA as well.
It is just a matter of time before the AWLA is the best shelter in the state. With the programs that Neil has implemented and the lives he has saved, he is already one of the top 5 shelters in Virginia. Recently a shelter director south of us was heard on the radio as saying, “We are not as good as Arlington yet, bet we are working on it”. It is nice to be the bench mark for others to aspire to.
Again, I’m beyond grateful for what Neil has done. He has saved hundreds of lives and has brought the joy of pet ownership to many Arlingtonians. Happy Anniversary and a HUGE thank you to Neil. Keep up the good work.
During the last decade, no one has worked harder than Debbie Marson to refocus AWLA on saving as many homeless animals as its impressive resources permit. Now Neil Trent is making Debbie’s hard work pay off, while raising the bar for other open-admission shelters in affluent DC-area jurisdictions.
The policies Debbie cites above (and others that Trent is implementing, like AWLA’s “Pit Crew” that works to find homes for well-adjusted dogs that other shelters routinely brand as pitbulls and then euthanize) lead to drastically reduced kill rates, or as in AWLA’s case, a kill rate approaching zero. And those results dramatically improve community support, which means more funding, more foster homes, more adopters, more volunteers, more animals saved. Everyone wants to be involved with a winner, and that’s what AWLA is becoming under Trent.
Are you paying attention AWL of Alexandria?
Montgomery County Humane Society?