A $10,000 grant awarded to Guilford County will be put to use in an interesting new program meant to reduce the number of pet surrenders to the Guilford County animal shelter.

This $10,000 grant is also supposed to simultaneously improve various county services, including social services.

The Guilford County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to formally accept the grant at the board’s Thursday, Jan. 5 meeting.

The money is part of a “Black, Indigenous and People of Color – Led Operating Support” grants program offered by Maddie’s Fund, a national animal welfare advocacy organization.

Guilford County Animal Services is being awarded the $10,000 to provide both direct and indirect services to pet-owning clients who contact the Guilford County animal shelter.

By partnering with other county departments, Animal Services will use the funds to “work towards identifying specific problems, incidents, responses, transactions, or any other complex issues that lead to animal surrenders.”

The Guilford County Division of Social Services and the Family Justice Center often work with families in crisis – and those problems, from financial hardships to domestic abuse, can lead to animal surrenders. Properly addressing economic and emotional crisis situations is expected to reduce the number of pet surrenders.

Animal surrenders have been a huge problem for the shelter this year.  The surrenders have led to major overcrowding issues as pet-owners return to workplaces after the pandemic.

The work will involve “establishing a trusting relationship with all clients and building collaborative relationships with community and county partners” like the Guilford County Division of Social Services and the Guilford County Family Justice Center. In addition, the grant will “allow Animal Services to serve as a portal of entry and contact for clients seeking services.”

The grant funds and data collected will help the county develop services that “provide clients appropriate services and crisis intervention during difficult situations.”