Serving Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson and York County, the 30,000-square-foot Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter (PRAS) hosts guests from as far away as northern Virginia. Operated by the City of Newport News, the shelter is open daily, managing animal adoptions, owner surrenders, stray drop offs and pet reclaims.
Newport News and Hampton Animal Control Divisions operate out of this facility. They bring in animals they trap or receive from hoarding situations. PRAS employs 14 full-time and 20 part-time personnel and is supported by 37 volunteers. It has capacity for 100 dogs, 180 cats and other companion animals. It operates a full-service veterinary clinic for its animals.
The mission of the shelter is to re-home unclaimed and unwanted animals, reunite lost animals with owners, and educate citizens when they visit to adopt. The shelter works with 50-plus entities, including partner shelters and local/out-of-state rescues to facilitate positive outcomes for each animal.
In 2019, 23 fosters partnered with PRAS through a $100,000 grant received from the Petco Foundation. This gift helped bring on Amanda McQuarry, foster care coordinator, who has facilitated more than 250 animals being placed in foster since she came onboard in March. Currently, 130 animals are in foster care, making space available for more animals to be served.
“If we didn’t have the foster opportunity here, some of the animals’ outcomes would be very grim,” Roger Iles, shelter manager, says.
Fosters provide specialized care, saving more lives. They help discover more about the animal and highlight its availability through friends and family. PRAS’ Weekend Warrior program allows vetted volunteers to take an animal out into the community as well.
“Maintaining daily operations through such challenging times can be attributed to a little bit of luck, accompanied by a lot of long hours and hard work of almost 200 dedicated volunteers, emergency fosters and professional shelter and animal services staff,” Michael Poplawski, Newport News director of parks, recreation and tourism, says.
“It’s important to recognize the willingness of our community to put up with the inconvenience of waiting in line or making an appointment in order to adopt a new four-legged family member,” Poplawski says.
Plans include expanding the foster program to have in-home hospice care; working with area agencies to increase awareness for Trap Neuter Release programs; reaching out to citizens to offer offsite adoption events and animal education; and developing a training resource center for citizens.
“We intend to continue our amazing partnership with Casey Subaru and the Subaru Corporation of America that gives animals a second chance to find forever homes,” Iles says.
Tiffany Webb, marketing coordinator, leads guest visits, ensuring awareness of the animals’ challenges and assets. There is signage streamlining their process by allowing guests to use a QR code on their cellphone to download, answer and submit their questionnaire.
“An animal advocate at the door facilitates conversation not only to engage guests but also to inform them,” Webb says. “They can learn about an animal prior to counseling to help make a decision sooner.”
This year, more than 6,000 animals came through PRAS. The shelter works to find a pathway for each animal to succeed. If it cannot, the most humane thing is to euthanize the animal.
PRAS is mandated by state law to take in every animal. “We are a public shelter and are here for you as the community,” Iles says.
PRAS just exceeded 10,000 adoptions. Iles says, “Compassion guides our staff in what they do on a daily basis.”
TO THE POINT:
Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter
Address: 5843 Jefferson Ave.,
Newport News, VA 23605