Animal-welfare leader implements a holistic approach
Angela Prodrick, who moved to WNC five years ago, is the executive director of Blue Ridge Humane Society in Hendersonville. There, she has implemented innovative approaches to local animal welfare, many of them born out of the exigencies of the past year.
What unique changes did the pandemic precipitate?
We shut our doors and adoption center. But we had animals in our care, so we created a whole new model for ourselves called “foster centric.” We put out a call to “fosters,” people to provide a home and care for the animals, and we provide everything — food, supplies, vet visits. With this foster-centric approach, the animals are a lot less stressed, and a lot happier and healthier. They are their natural selves in their foster homes.
How is this helpful in the long run?
We can better understand their behavior and personality. We can tell adopters everything they can expect, so there are a lot more successful adoptions.
What a great idea.
We also want to keep pets and owners together, and not let the cost of having a pet inhibit that. In 2018, I started the Meals on Wheels Pet Pals program to provide pet food to all Meals on Wheels clients. We also grew our pet-assistance food program 31 percent last year by partnering with seven human food banks in the county.
How did that come about?
Individuals were giving pets their own food and going without. Now they get their food and pet food at the same food bank, and it’s one less thing for them to worry about. Housing assistance is also new; temporary boarding for pets if people have an animal but they have to quickly leave their home due to circumstances like domestic violence or illness.
Expanding your role beyond animal care?
We’re trying to take a holistic social-work approach to it. When someone decides to give up their animal, it’s usually a time in their life when they’ve hit a crisis and need their pet the most. We want to supply resources for human assistance to help in those situations. And when people talk about their pets, they open up and you learn about the person and can maybe guide them on a beneficial path. Our pet health line has been very active, too. You can call 24/7 with any questions. Maybe the cat won’t use the litter box, or you found an animal and don’t know what to do. We’ll help with answers.