The first meeting of ART was in January of 1999. Our members came together initially because each was involved in improving the lives of, and finding homes for, orphaned animals. Some individuals took in stray and/or unwanted animals, restored them to health as needed, and placed them in permanent homes. Others in the group focused most of their efforts on supporting local shelters like the city funded Animal Control and privately funded SPCA’s. We decided that we wanted to continue and enhance these diverse efforts and have done so quite well.
During our short history, ART’s impact on the community has been profound. In addition to developing a solid network of foster homes, which allows members to rescue and adopt out many animals per month, ART members play a vital role in the development of policy and laws at the local and state level. The organization is committed to spay/neuter to end the un-controlled breeding of dogs and cats and to helping families in need when financial crises arise which preclude them from obtaining emergency medical care for their pets. Further, ART is an approved rescue with nearly every shelter in the region ART is incorporated and a 501 © 3 as designated by the IRS.
ART began a pilot project of spaying and neutering animals at no cost to citizens in the Ocean View neighborhood of Norfolk in the spring of 2009. Over the next 12 months, we went about gathering data to indentify targeted neighborhoods where low-income and high-calls to Animal Control for strays intersected. As a result of that research, SpayHR was launched in 2010. Free spay/neuter is offered to a several targeted neighborhoods and low-cost services are both marketed and offered to other areas. Since we began, over 1500 animals have been altered with grants from Petsmart Charities, Build-A-Bear Workshop Hugs Foundation, Two Mauds, Inc., The Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and the Friends of Norfolk Animal Care and Control, in addition to generous donations from private donors. The program is ongoing and the impact we are having on controlling unwanted litters is significant. We are proud to report that the City of Norfolk issued a Resolution honoring ART for these efforts.
Emergency Medical Funding
Year after year, ART provides emergency funding to pet guardians whose beloved companion animals are in dire need of medical care which the caregiver cannot afford. As financial conditions have worsened, the demand for this service has significantly increased. In fact, our expenditures in this area average $20,000 per year.
ART has a demonstrated history of working to improve laws for companion animals and their caregivers.
In 2008, ART was the catalyst for passage of “The Water Bill”. With the help of Delegate Kenny Alexander who patroned House Bill 673, ART members worked tirelessly on “The Water Bill” to ensure humane hydration for Virginia’s animals. This legislation removed the language that water must be replenished only “once every 12 hours” and replaced it such that water must be provided “appropriate for the weather and temperature”. That means cool water in the summer and not-frozen water in the winter. We are grateful to Delegate Alexander for his vital role in creating better laws for animals in the Commonwealth.
In 2010, ART was again the catalyst for an important bill that aimed to end discrimination based upon breed in publicly funded shelters. Our efforts were emanated from a 2006 Attorney General Opinion that euthanizing dogs in publicly funded shelters based solely upon breed is illegal. Unfortunately, House Bill 429, which was patroned by Delegate H. Morgan Griffith, failed, even with last-minute efforts by Governor Bob McDonnell to resurrect it; however, important attention was brought to this discriminatory practice, many shelters ended the behavior nonetheless, and we are deeply indebted to Delegate Morgan and Governor McDonnell for their commitment.
Marketing Shelter Animals
Each year ART commits a portion of our revenues to be used by local shelters to market the wonderful dogs and cats in their facilities. The money we give is used for newspaper ads, supporting special events, etc. Typically we budget $3,000 per year for this initiative and shelter directors tell us the impact is significant.
Pit Bull Awareness Coalition
In June of 2009, ART convened a meeting of local pit bull advocates, from which the Pit Bull Awareness Coalition (PBAC) was created. This body is committed to dispelling the myths and misconceptions surrounding bully breeds, promoting responsible bully breed ownership, ending breed discrimination and raising awareness about the true, loving nature of bully breeds. The PBAC Drill Team is a favorite in local parades and all the dogs participating have achieved their Canine Good Citizen certification. PBAC members also participate in many public events annually to raise awareness about the breed, partnering, for example, with Prevent Child Abuse Hampton Roads each year for Bullies In Bonnets, an event aimed at bringing attention both to child abuse and animal abuse.
Approved to receive a Michael Vick Pit Bull
After a rigorous application process, ART was selected to receive one of the pit bulls seized when the dog fighting operation at Michael Vick’s Surry County home was raided. Piper was a frozen statue when we got her, as if attempting to be invisible and she has never shown any aggressive behavior. Today she is both a Canine Good Citizen and a Certified Therapy Dog, proving the wisdom of the courageous judge who ordered that the dogs be assessed individually instead of summarily killed. That precedent setting decision creates a life-affirming future for all dogs seized from fighting operations in the United States and beyond.
Recognized by every shelter in the region
We are an approved rescue organization with the Norfolk SPCA and Norfolk Animal Care & Control, Chesapeake Animal Control, Suffolk Animal Control, Virginia Beach Animal Control, Portsmouth Humane and we are a recognized Releasing Agency with the State Veterinarian.
Founded Animal Welfare Coalition of Hampton Roads
ART invited all animal service providers in the region to a meeting on 9/30/01 to engage in a discussion, the ultimate goal of which was to create a plan to end euthanasia as a means of controlling animal over-population in Southside Hampton Roads.
After two meetings, the group unanimously agreed to endorse ART’s application, on behalf of the Animal Welfare Coalition, to the Norfolk Foundation for a grant to fund a year long process of data gathering and community building in the area of animal service and animal welfare, to be lead by the professional team of Joseph Riddick and Associates.
The Norfolk Foundation approved the grant application, which contained thirty-eight letters of support, including letters from three city managers on the Southside and letters from different levels of city leadership in the other cities; as well as letters from Best Friends and Alley Cat Allies. There was universal support for this approach to bringing the service providers together identifying the services available, the unmet needs and a plan for coordinated service deliver to address those un-met needs.
In early 2003, with the needs assessment complete, Riddick and Associates delivered the State of Animal Welfare 2002 to the Coalition and general public in Council Chambers at Norfolk City Hall.
Today the Coalition holds 4 week-end-long Super Adopt-athon’s annually, shares best practices among members, hosts a website offering vast information to the community on animal care and available services, and networks to save the lives of literally thousands of animals each year.
Celebration Garden, Old Donation Episcopal Church, Virginia Beach
In 2005, Animal Rescue of Tidewater and Old Donation Episcopal Church created a special garden celebrating animals and animal lovers that touch our hearts and lives. The garden is filled with spring blooming bulbs, each planted to recognize a special animal or animal lover. The garden also includes a Kousa dogwood, a bench for peaceful meditation and a plaque commemorating the dedication of the garden. Bulbs are planted each fall as requested by anyone wishing to celebrate their “Forever Friend”.
Rescued/adopted out approx. 2200 animals from 1999- Dec 2010
We accept unwanted animals from individuals, or, when an animal’s “time is up”, from the SPCA and area Animal Control shelters. The animals are placed into our network of foster homes, they are brought current on vaccinations and spayed/neutered, ads are run, potential owners screened, and, ultimately, permanent homes are found.
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