Mission Statement

To promote the well-being of animals and our community through education, care, adoption, and outreach

Vision Statement

Working together as a community to save lives and keep pets and their people together

Values Statement

Treating pets and their caretakers with kindness and compassion to ensure the most positive outcome for all

Our Values

Excellence – To strive for best current practices in animal and customer care, and to be a person I would want to work alongside to achieve our mission

Effectiveness – Perform every task with purpose for the betterment of our animals, our shelter, and our community

Honesty – Be forthcoming with each other and our community about the reality of our work

Compassion – Enter each interaction from a place of kindness and consideration for what the other might be experiencing, human and animal alike

Empowerment – To help animals, customers, and each other find the strength and confidence to continue to grow

Trust – To engage each other openly, believing we all have the animal’s best interest at heart

Position Statements

Trap/Neuter/Vaccinate/Return

AHS supports and promotes trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) in the management of free-roaming and community cat populations. TNVR programs provide a humane and more effective alternative to euthanasia of otherwise healthy cats to prevent the over-population of community cats. Community cats often have a food source and established life at a location it is familiar with. Removing community cats simply opens space within a colony for a new cat to find the resources the original cat was utilizing.

Trapping to euthanize creates what is called a “vacuum effect.” This means any cat removed from a colony and killed will likely be replaced by another, sometimes more. Such cats should be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and ear-tipped prior to return to their original location so anyone encountering a cat or colony knows the cat is part of a managed program.

Return to Field

Nationally, cats that enter animal shelters are twice as likely to be euthanized than dogs, despite having roughly the same number of each species entering the shelters each year. Most of these are free-roaming “community cats,” healthy and thriving in their environment but not socialized to humans. Additionally, free-roaming owned cats have only a 3% chance of being reunited with their owner if they are brought into the shelter. For these reasons, AHS supports and has implemented a return-to-field (RTF) program, which allows for healthy community cats entering shelters and lacking identification to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, ear-tipped and returned to where they were found.

It is important to remember that cats do not become friendly and social in a vacuum. Friendly community cats are often owned indoor-outdoor cats or cats born outside with a dedicated caretaker. AHS does not believe in taking in healthy cats that are being cared for and have someone who will miss them. With RTF programs, cats with owners, exhibiting no signs of distress in their current outdoor environment, will be altered, vaccinated, and returned. When this is not an option, the cats proceed through the adoption process.

Euthanasia and No-Kill

In April 2021, through a partnership with Best Friends Animal Society, AHS made no-kill part of its mission. To be considered no-kill, no healthy or treatable animal is euthanized when necessary resources are available. The community’s focus should be on saving as many lives as possible through positive outcomes (adoption, transfer to rescue groups, TNVR, RTF, etc.). The no-kill threshold is considered to be a 90% live release rate or 90% of animals leaving the shelter alive. In 2022, after 49 years in existence, Antietam Humane Society achieved no-kill with a live-release rate of 94%.

Antietam Humane Society does still have occasions when euthanasia is the most humane option for the animal. This is determined by the AHS leadership team along with kennel staff who cares for the animals each day. Criteria for euthanizing is that the animal is sick to the point there is no quality of life even with treatment or the animal is aggressive and unsafe for staff to handle. Aggression is determined after numerous attempts to work with the animal through an enrichment plan.

Managed Intake

AHS is the only shelter serving Southern Franklin County, Pennsylvania. This means that we will not turn away any animal that has no other option but the shelter. There are often times that an animal does not need to come into the shelter immediately. These are instances of owner surrenders, found orphaned kittens that will survive best outside of the shelter until older, healthy feral cats that can be quickly altered and returned to their location, etc. For these situations, we ask that any intake be scheduled to better maintain a safe and healthy capacity within the shelter.

Safety Net Programs

At AHS, we strive to keep animals in their homes whenever possible and safe to do so. Not only does this give the animal a better chance, but it also keeps kennels open for those animals most in need of our care. We provide safety net programs when our finances and resources allow. This is typically seen through pet food banks, emergency boarding due to fire, flooding, etc., pet behavior consultations, low-cost vaccine and microchip clinics, and low-cost spay/neuter for community cats.

Humane Education

AHS believes that the best way to prevent cruelty, neglect, and over-population is through education. Part of our mission is to educate our community about animal related legislation, proper care and handling, the value of spay/neuter, etc. The more educated our community becomes, the greater chance our animals have.