New York, NY

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

New York City is the largest city in the United States, with an estimated 2013 population of over 8,400,000. The municipal shelter in New York is Animal Care & Control (ACC), which takes in about 30,000 animals per year. ACC has three shelters and two receiving stations, one in each of the five boroughs. The director of New York City’s Animal Care & Control recently announced that the city had an 81% live release rate in 2014.

New York City has an unusual – possibly unique – approach to increasing the shelter’s live release rate. Instead of a single non-profit, or group of non-profits, that work with the shelter as we see in most large cities with high live release rates, New York has a large consortium of rescues that pull animals from the shelter. A non-profit, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, is an umbrella group that acts as a liaison between the city and the rescues and also provides an interface to manage the transfer of animals. Jane Hoffman, an attorney, has been the President and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Mayor’s Alliance since 2003.

Prospects for further improvement in 2015 are looking hopeful. The city has announced an $8 million capital-funding grant that will be used to build an adoption center at Animal Care & Control’s Manhattan location, remodel the Brooklyn shelter to help cut down on disease transmission, and buy more adoption vans.

New York City is counted in the Running Totals as an 80% to 90% community.

Portland Metro Area

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

The city of Portland, Oregon, has a population of 584,000 people. It is the county seat of Multnomah County, which has 735,000 people. The Portland metro area (which includes part of the state of Washington) has almost 2.3 million people.

The Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland (ASAP) is a coalition of six organizations, some of which are municipal and some private, that provide animal sheltering in the Portland metro area. The municipal members of the coalition (shelters that are responsible for stray intake) are Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS) (serving the city of Portland and Multnomah County), the Bonnie L. Hays Shelter (BLH) (serving Washington County), and Clackamas County Dog Services. The private members of the coalition are the Oregon Humane Society, the Humane Society for Southwest Washington (HSSW) (which works with Clark County Animal Control), and the Cat Adoption Team. Together these six organizations serve four counties — Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, and Clark — containing about 2 million people. ASAP estimates that its six members care for 90% of the animals needing sheltering in the four counties.

Coalitions such as ASAP are becoming a trend, as more and more municipal shelters seek out and work closely with private partners. In such situations you have to look at the community coalition as a whole, rather than the individual shelters, to get an accurate idea of what is going on. For example, the Clackamas County municipal shelter does not pick up stray cats and does not accept owner surrendered cats, but it offers cats for adoption that have been taken in by other area organizations. Conversely, the Cat Adoption Team takes in cats but not dogs. MCAS and BLH accept owner surrenders only when they have room, but owner surrenders are accepted by HSSW and OHS.

The ASAP coalition increased the live release rate for the metro area from 62% in 2006 to 79% in 2011. Maddie’s Fund reported that the coalition had an 85% live release rate for 2012, with a combined intake of almost 32,000 animals.

The coalition’s live release rate first exceeded 90% in 2013, with a live release rate of 91% for an intake of just over 30,000 animals. If owner-requested euthanasia and animals who died or were lost in shelter care are counted with euthanasias, the live release rate was 86% for 2013. (The ASAP statistics are linked here.) With ASAP’s service area of about 2 million people, it was the largest metro area in 2013 to report a 90% or better live release rate under the standard calculation.

Multnomah County’s live release rate for 2013, calculated separately on MCAS intake alone, was 87%. It is not unusual, when you have a coalition, for a shelter that does animal control intake to have a lower live release rate than other intake shelters in the coalition, since animal control generally involves the most difficult situations such as hoarders, dog-fighting busts, etc. When other shelters in the area of the animal control shelter are doing intake of owner surrenders, it can artificially depress the success rate of the animal control shelter.

In 2014, Both MCAS and the coalition as a whole improved their live release rates (the full coalition Asilomar statistics are not posted as of this writing.) MCAS has reported 90.2% for 2014, and ASAP as a whole has reported a 93% live release rate for 2014 (see header in link).

The Portland metro area is counted in the blog’s running totals as a 90%+ community.

King County, WA

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

King County, Washington, has a population of almost 2 million people, and its county seat is Seattle. Many of the people in the county live in the suburbs of Seattle.

In 2008, the county reported a live release rate of 77%, substantially better than in previous years. A consultant submitted a scathing report on the shelter, however, which at that time was known as King County Animal Care & Control. The consultant concluded that, among other things, animals were often left without food and water for substantial periods of time. The county council then decided to make changes.

In July of 2010, the county implemented a regional plan for animal control, breaking the county up into four regions which each had their own animal control staff. Animal sheltering was consolidated at the county shelter in Kent, Washington. A new manager was appointed. The new entity was know as Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC). RASKC accepts owner surrenders on a space available basis. RASKC serves the unincoporated area of King County and 25 cities and towns.

For 2011 and 2012, RASKC reported a live release rate around 85%. A complicating factor in evaluating the live release rate for King County is that the Humane Society for Seattle/King County (HSSKC), a private organization, accepts owner surrenders (by appointment). HSSKC and the Seattle Animal Shelter report to Maddie’s Fund as a coalition, and their most recent available online report (2010) shows a 91% live release rate for the coalition as a whole, with HSSKC at 94% and the Seattle shelter at 85%. HSSKC separately reported a 96% live release rate for 2011.

For the calendar year 2013, RASKC reported an 89% live release rate for cats and dogs. If owner-requested euthanasia and animals who died or were lost in shelter care are included with euthanasias, the live release rate was 86%. The shelter also euthanized some livestock, wildlife, and small animals, including bats for rabies testing. If all these euthanasias are counted with cats and dogs, the live release rate was 83%. In 2014, the live release rate declined to 86%, or 84% if animals who died or were lost in shelter care are counted with euthanasias. The live release rate might well be over 90% if the owner surrenders from King County that go to HSSKC were counted in RASKC statistics.

HSSKC’s yearly intake is around 6,000, so it is a major player in the area. Since HSSKC serves both the city and the county, it would be helpful to have a consolidated report for all three entities that accounted for transfers among the three entities. At any rate, the Seattle metropolitan area appears to be one of the safest large metros in the nation for animals.

King County is counted in the Running Totals as an 80% to 90% community.

Washington, DC

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

Washington, DC, the nation’s capital, had a population of 602,000 at the 2010 census and is growing rapidly. The city is surrounded by densely populated urban areas in Maryland and Virginia, and the metropolitan area has a population of 5,700,000.

The Washington Humane Society (WHS) is an animal welfare agency chartered by Congress that has been in existence since 1870. WHS provides animal control and animal sheltering for the district. The shelter states on its website that “[t]he Animal Control Facility primarily houses dogs, cats, and pocket pets, but never turns any animal away.” It describes itself as “the open access shelter in the nation’s capital.”

WHS has a comprehensive set of programs, including a Behavior and Learning Center that provides training and play groups for shelter dogs and answers questions from the public, a community cat program that provides TNR, an affordable, high-volume spay-neuter center, a Safe Haven program for pets who are victims of domestic violence or abuse,  and a task force for lost and found animals. This 2013 report provides more information on WHS intake and programs.

Zenit Chughtai, a communications specialist with WHS, told the media that WHS had a live release rate of 87% in 2014. Intake was up slightly at 10,540 animals, as compared to 10,474 in 2013. Chughtai credited the shelter’s adoption promotions, including a “Petzilla: Adopt a Cuddle Monster” promotion last May, for the increase in their live release rate.

WHS reported a live release rate of 80%, including wildlife, in 2013, so the shelter’s step up to 87% is significant. In an article that appeared in January 2014, a shelter spokesman attributed the shelter’s improvement in recent years to several factors, including new adoption policies, off-site adoption events, discounted and free adoptions, an expanded foster program, the community cat program, and a program to work with landlords. He also credited a new perception on the part of the public about the shelter, noting that in the past the shelter had been seen as “a dark, dreary place where animals come to die.”

In addition to WHS, the District of Columbia is home to the Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL), which was founded in 1914. WARL has a full-service veterinary clinic that provides discounted care for the pets of income-qualified residents of the district and 14 surrounding counties. WARL also offers discounted spaying and neutering regardless of the owner’s income or residence. WARL reported an 89% live release rate for 2012 with an intake of 1973 dogs and cats and 89% for 2013 with intake of 2343.

Washington, D.C., is counted in the Running Totals as an 80%-90% community.

New Hampshire

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

New Hampshire is a small state in New England with a cold climate and mountainous terrain. The state has a population of 1,300,000 people as of the 2010 census. The largest city in the state, Manchester, has a population of 100,000. The capital city, Concord, has 43,000 people.

Animal shelters in the state belong to a private organization called the New Hampshire Federation of Humane Organizations (NHFHO). The federation was formed in 1979, and the eight founding members are the major intake shelters in the state. NHFHO currently lists 16 members in the shelter-rescue category.

The shelters report their statistics to the NHFHO, but the Federation does not make statistics on individual shelters available to the general public. Instead, it makes aggregate data for all shelters available. For 2013, the NHFHO report showed a 91% live release rate with intake of 14,434 cats and dogs. The live release rate was 90% if owner-requested euthanasias and animals who died or were lost in shelter care are counted with euthanasias. For the 2012 calendar year, the NHFHO released aggregate data that showed a 91% live release rate.

New Hampshire is counted in the Running Totals as a 90%+ community.

San Antonio, TX

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

San Antonio is a fast-growing city in south-central Texas with a population of 1.3 million people.  It is the county seat of Bexar County. Greater San Antonio has a population of over 2.2 million people.

In 2006, San Antonio Animal Care Services (ACS) had a live release rate of only 10%. At that time, the shelter put forth a strategic plan to achieve live release of all adoptable animals by 2012. The shelter failed to reach the goal, however, and in September of 2011 it put forth a new strategic plan in which it acknowledged that its live release rate was only 31%.

The 2011 strategic plan identified three elements as “critical” to achieving a high live release rate: (1) a strong licensing program, (2) spay/neuter partnerships, and (3) high-volume rescue partnerships. The report noted that San Antonio “has existing strong spay/neuter partnerships, and has simplified the licensing program within the past year.” As to the third element, the report stated that the city “is challenging the animal welfare community to take on an additional 6,000 animals annually from ACS shelters.”

There have been many changes since the 2011 plan was released. Early in 2012, the city announced that Austin Pets Alive!, which had been helping ACS, was ready to partner with the city of San Antonio through a new organization, San Antonio Pets Alive!. The San Antonio Humane Society took in over 2000 pets from ACS in 2012, as well as accepting animals directly from the public. Late in 2012, ACS welcomed a new director, Kathy Davis. The city announced an agreement with another non-profit, the Animal Defense League of Texas, which manages a 2.2 million dollar shelter built by the city. In 2013, San Antonio gave up handling animal control and sheltering for the unincorporated parts of Bexar County. The No Kill city of Kirby may partner with Bexar County to construct and manage a new shelter.

San Antonio recently announced that for the year 2014, ACS had an 84% live release rate. The shelter’s live release rate for cats is 92%, and only adult dogs are still under 90%. ACS has joined the Million Cat Challenge, and Davis said that San Antonio was proud to be a part of the Challenge as a city that had gotten to No Kill status for cats. If the current rate of improvement continues, San Antonio’s overall live release rate could go above 90% in 2015.

San Antonio is counted in the blog’s Running Totals as an 80-90% community.

Brown County, WI

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

Brown County is located in eastern Wisconsin, bordering the Green Bay area of Lake Michigan. Its population is 248,000 people. Its county seat is the city of Green Bay, which has a population of 104,000. The Bay Area Humane Society (BAHS) is a private non-profit that provides animal sheltering for the county and all of its cities and towns, except for the city of Green Bay. BAHS accepts owner surrenders subject to a waiting list when they are full.

BAHS used to provide animal sheltering for the city of Green Bay. In June of 2013, though, Green Bay officials began sending animals picked up by animal control within the city limits to a veterinarian’s office for the stray hold period. Recently the city has been considering moving animal control and sheltering back to BAHS.

BAHS reports its statistics in the Asilomar Accords format. In 2014 the shelter took in 3780 cats and dogs and had a 94% live release rate. If owner-requested euthanasias and animals who died in shelter care are counted as euthanasias, the live release rate was 91%. Owner-requested euthanasias dropped considerably in 2014 from previous years. In 2013, BAHS intake not counting owner-requested euthanasias was 4640 and the live release rate was 88%. In 2012, the shelter took in 5043 cats and dogs (not counting owner-requested euthanasias), and the live release rate was 85%.

Brown County is counted in the Running Totals as a 90%+ community.

Lane County, OR

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

Lane County is located in western Oregon and has close to 352,000 residents. It contains the cities of Eugene (156,000 residents) and Springfield (60,000 residents). Lane County Animal Services (LCAS) was a municipal shelter that served Lane County, Eugene and Springfield until 2012, when county officials put animal sheltering up for bid. Greenhill Humane Society, the only bidder, was granted the contract and took over the LCAS shelter on July 1, 2012.

Currently, Greenhill runs two shelters — the former LCAS shelter on 1st Avenue in Eugene, which takes in all strays from animal control officers in Lane County, Eugene, and Springfield, and the original Greenhill shelter on Green Hill Road which takes in owner surrenders. Greenhill requires an appointment and a fee ($10 to $100) for owner surrenders, and I confirmed with the shelter that it has a waiting list for cats and generally does not accept aggressive dogs as owner surrenders. Eugene animal control officers do not impound feral cats, and Greenhill has a Trap-Neuter-Return program for feral cats in the county. The shelter states its euthanasia policy for the dual shelters as follows: “Greenhill euthanizes only in situations involving animals that cannot be safely handled – either because of aggression or contagious disease, or where the animal is suffering and a reasonable level of treatment would not be effective at improving quality of life.”

LCAS was doing well before the Greenhill takeover, and reported a 94% live release rate for dogs and 88% for cats in the 2010-2011 fiscal year. When Greenhill took over, the city of Eugene began posting monthly statistics on the city website for the 1st Avenue shelter. Full statistics are posted on the Greenhill website for each fiscal year and are current through June 30, 2014. The live release rate for fiscal year 2013-2014 was 92%, with intake of 2907 animals. The live release rate for fiscal year 2012-2013 was 89% with intake of 3290 dogs and cats.

Lane County is counted in the Running Totals as a 90%+ community.

Jacksonville, FL

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

Jacksonville is a city of 837,000 people on the northeast coast of Florida.  It is the largest city in Florida and the 12th largest city in the United States. The city is located in Duval County, which has a population of about 865,000. The governments of the city and county were consolidated in 1968. The Jacksonville metro area has over 1.3 million people, which is the 4th largest metro area in Florida after Miami, Tampa-St. Petersburg, and Orlando.

The Jacksonville Animal Care and Protective Services Division (ACPSD) is a city-run department that handles animal control and sheltering for the city and Duval County. The shelter accepts owner surrenders with no noted restrictions except for a small fee. It does not perform owner-requested euthanasia.

ACPSD works closely with two large non-profits in the city. The Jacksonville Humane Society (JHS) takes in some strays and adoptable owner surrenders and pulls animals from ACPSD. First Coast No More Homeless Pets (FCNMHP) offers low-cost spay-neuter, vaccinations, and veterinary care, and does over 30,000 spay-neuter surgeries per year.  FCNMHP collaborates with ACPSD and Best Friends Animal Society in a program called Feral Freedom  that  has made Trap-Neuter-Return the default solution for feral cats in Jacksonville.

In 2014 the city of Jacksonville and Duval County became one of the largest No Kill jurisdictions, with a live release rate for ACPSD of 92%. If animals who died or were lost in shelter care are counted as euthanasias, the modified live release rate was 90% for 2014. Combined shelter statistics for ACPSD and JHS have been provided by JHS, but are not in the format I use for calculations. JHS’s live release rate was even higher than ACPSD’s, though. Total intake for ACPSD and JHS for the year was 17,099, which is about 20 animals per 1000 people. That intake number does not include the feral cats who go through the Feral Freedom program.

At the 2014 Best Friends national conference, the Jacksonville coalition presented a playbook detailing how they got to No Kill. For years they have had a heavy reliance on spay-neuter programs, including their model feral cat program, to bring down intake. The coalition is also doing a lot of adoptions – ACPSD and JHS did over 10,000 adoptions in 2014. That is 12 adoptions per 1000 people.

ACPSD’s live release rate was 35% or less from the year 2000 up until Scott Trebatoski was hired as director in late 2008. The live release rate climbed to 50% in 2009, his first full year as director, then went to 74% in 2012 and 85% in 2013. Trebatoski left ACPSD in March 2014 to become director of the Hillsborough County (Tampa) shelter, and was replaced by Nikki Harris. Harris previously worked for the Nebraska Humane Society and FCNMHP before moving to ACPSD as shelter manager.

Jacksonville-Duval County is counted in the Running Totals as a 90%+ community.

Whidbey Island, WA

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

Whidbey Island, which is part of Island County, Washington, is at the northern edge of Puget Sound, 30 miles north of Seattle. The island has over 58,000 residents and its largest city, Oak Harbor, has about 22,000 people.

The Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation (WAIF) handles animal sheltering for the island. WAIF contracts with Island County and the city of Oak Harbor to provide shelter services, although the contract payments do not cover the total cost for the services. WAIF, a non-profit, fund-raises for the remainder.

WAIF has a holding facility for strays in Oak Harbor. Unclaimed strays are transferred to WAIF’s main shelter in Coupeville, about 10 miles from Oak Harbor. The shelter has weekend hours on both Saturday and Sunday. WAIF also has a cat adoption center in Oak Harbor, and a “cat cottage” in Freeland, Washington. Construction is underway on a new shelter located on a 10-acre site, with completion anticipated this fall.

WAIF reports live release rates above 90% since 2005, with the exception of two years when it was at 89%. The live release rate for 2014 was 95%. In 2014, WAIF had intake of 841 animals, down from 903 in 2013. The shelter returned 75% of dogs to their owners in 2014 and 6% of cats, far above national averages in both categories.  Adoptions were 64% of live outcomes.

Whidbey Island is counted in the Running Totals as a 90% community.