Faithful Friends Animal Society unveiled its new headquarters Thursday.

Faithful Friends: 50% more pets saved in 4 years with new HQ

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Health

Faithful Friends Animal Society unveiled its new headquarters Thursday.

Faithful Friends Animal Society unveiled its new headquarters Thursday.

Faithful Friends Animal Society is hoping to have the capacity to save 25% more animals in the next two years with its new headquarters, its founder said after a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday.

“When we started Faithful Friends [in 2000], publicly-funded shelters in Delaware had a 90 percent kill rate, and today, Delaware is one of just three no-kill states in the country,” said Jane Pierantozzi, founder and executive director of the animal welfare nonprofit.

The organization moved from its previous location at 12 Germay Drive in Wilmington to 165 Airport Road in New Castle.

“We have space for about 65 dogs and about 200 cats and kittens, plus our foster care system which we support is another 300 animals,” Pierantozzi said. “ We hope that the lifesaving will increase by 25% in two years because of the new location… and hopefully a 50% increase in four years.”

Based on the current numbers of animals being helped by the shelter, Faithful Friends wants to expand its services to about 140 more animals in the next two years and 280 more in the next four.

One challenge the shelter is facing, she said, is a slowdown in dog adoptions across the country, which she says is largely because of the struggling economy.

The shelter has an annual operating budget of $3.9 million. 

“We rely on individual donors mainly for running this facility,” Pierantozzi said. 

Construction on the new $11 million facility began in May 2017 and was supposed to be done in 2021, but delays were inevitable with the pandemic.

Through the legislature’s Bond Bill, the shelter received about $1.4 million from the state over a few separate allocations for the new headquarters. 

During the ceremony, three pet-owners who adopted from Faithful Friends shared their stories on the importance of saving animals and how their pets have become an integral part of their families. 

One was a police officer, Rick Jones, in Pennsylvania who trained his adopted dog to become a certified police dog. He said his dog Jack is the first rescue police K-9 in Pennsylvania, and he predicted that more rescue dogs will become members of the police force.

“Pets are essential to human mental health and sometimes physical health,” said New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer, who is running for governor next year. “This piece of land makes a tremendous statement about the values of our community.”

Among a slew of gratitude for individual and group donors, construction workers, designers and more, Board President Bob Wasserbach thanked Colonial School District for gifting the land to the shelter.

Some of what Faithful Friends has done since its inception to protect animals in Delaware include: 

  • Working with state officials on Delaware’s first spay/neuter legislation, which created a public spay/neuter fund for pet owners on public assistance and required all shelters to spay/neuter pets before adoption.
  • Opening Delaware’s first free pet food and supply bank, which became a model for other organizations throughout the state.
  • Leading the creation of Delaware’s Animal Shelter Standards Law, which overhauled how shelters manage animals that are in their care and required shelters to publish their animal outcomes.
  • Pushing for Delaware’s animal welfare services to be considered a supportive state agency, leading to the creation of the Office of Animal Welfare under the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Calling for an increased registration fee for manufacturers on the sale of pet food in Delaware, which created significant support for the state’s spay/neuter fund.

Animal shelters in Delaware aren’t allowed to euthanize healthy or treatable animals based on time limits or capacity of the shelter. They are only allowed to euthanize terminally-ill animals, animals suffering poor quality of life or those considered dangerous to public safety.

Pierantozzi said the first goal of Faithful Friends was to end the mass killing and mistreatment of pets in publicly-funded shelters.

“Moving in the new facility tells the community two things,” she said. “One, we are here to stay. Two, we have passionate supporters who give us a firm foundation from which to grow.”

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