Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter

BARCS leadership is highly-motivated to help both animals and people

Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS)

Like many city animal agencies, Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) in Baltimore, Maryland, is located in a less accessible area of town. The 32-year-old facility is only 23,000 sq. ft. – about half the space needed to house more than 10,000 dogs and cats they take in annually. They don’t have enough cages or surgery space. They don’t have proper ventilation, drainage or even enough quarantine space to house animals.

What they do have, thankfully, is Jennifer Brause.

Brause, a former marine mammal trainer, volunteered for the agency for two years before accepting the position as executive director in 2006. At the time, BARC had a 47% lifesaving rate. With just 10 staff and an operating budget of $450,000, Brause knew the challenges ahead. But she was highly-motivated to make changes that would benefit both the people and the animals.

"We didn’t have much, but I believed we could make changes that would save lives."

Managing the ebb and flow of animals

Brause focused on building a volunteer program to grow their off-site adoption events and create the kind of programs that would either get pets adopted or help them stay in their homes.

Like most groups, volunteers helped walk dogs daily, but the dogs never got a chance to interact with each other. So BARCS learned how to assess dogs for participation in daily social play groups and set up a play area outside. The program improved dog adoptions almost from the start.

“Dogs are happier and better behaved when they play with each other,” says Brause. “As for adopters, they can better see a dog’s personality better in a play group and make a better choice about the dog they want to adopt.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Brause realized that some pet owners needed a little help to keep their pets. So BARCS developed a pet retention program that provides advice on behavior, training and resources, like vaccinations or food, that might make the difference for a pet owner.

“I am happy to say we have prevented as many as 200 intakes in one month,” says Brause.

Cheering on team Baltimore

Even though BARCS operates with 75 full- and part-time staff and 500 volunteers today, “BARCS has operated with far too little for too long,” says Susanne Kogut, executive director for the Petco Foundation. “They operate with a small budget for the number of animals they care for and are in need of a new facility. But what we love about them is they are determined and don’t let that stand in the way of saving lives.”

Brause says Petco Foundation investments of $460,000 since 2013 have enabled them to purchase a mobile adoption unit to transport animals to off-site adoption events and hire two full-time staff to oversee these programs. They also have hired three new staff to manage the community cat program, which sterilizes 3,000 community cats annually.

“The Petco Foundation has been amazing,” says Brause. “They are not just supportive; they are actually cheering us on. Because of their support, I believe we’ll be able to push our organization beyond our 85% lifesaving rate and achieve even more for animals in Baltimore.”

With Brause at the helm, we’re cheering them on.