New Year resolutions for 2013 Making them public helps make them stick
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By Mickey Zeldes  January 11, 2013 12:00 am

How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? Sticking to them? They say that if you make your resolutions public, publish them on your Facebook page for example, then you are much more likely to achieve your goals because your friends and family can hold you accountable. So, with that in mind, I’m going to set some New Year’s resolutions and let you in on them so we can keep track of our successes and setbacks.

Our intake numbers continue to drop, which I will attribute to our aggressive spay/neuter program. We were down 200 animals last year compared to 2011 and have lowered our intake almost 50 percent since I started in 1998. That’s an accomplishment we’re quite proud of. As our incoming population lowers, we can hold onto animals longer and give challenging animals the time they need to be worked with. We also reach out to other overcrowded shelters and offer help to move their adoptable animals out and into new homes. To keep this trend going the free cat spays and neuters will continue as long as our funds hold out.

Our return-to-owner rate for strays is about 60 percent for dogs and 8 percent for cats. Much higher than national averages (24 percent and 2 percent, respectively) but this is an area that can improve, and we will focus some energy on this coming year. I mentioned in last week’s column the dream every dog and cat in Rohnert Park would have a collar with an ID tag (free from the shelter), a license (required by law for all dogs and cats in Rohnert Park), and a microchip as a backup. That way, every animal would have a “ticket” home if he were to become lost. Because we only did 100 free microchips in December – far short of our target of 500 – we are continuing this program until we hit that goal. So, our resolution is to increase our return-to-owner rate to 70 percent for dogs and 10 percent for cats (higher would be even nicer).

Of the 702 animals that are either unclaimed strays or owner surrendered to us, 611 found new loving homes this past year. That’s an 87 percent overall life release rate. Good, but it could be better. We’re hoping to get a new adoption van this year, which will open some additional opportunities for us. We are looking to increase our use of social media to network and showcase our adoptable animals (Are you a fan of our Facebook page? Why not!?), and we’re always looking at building relationships with breed specific groups to get our animals out of the shelter. This past year we started working more closely with Forgotten Felines and their barn relocation program for feral cats.

We’re also encouraging people who have been caring for an outside stray to take them back if they are not tame enough to be adopted once they have been spayed or neutered and vaccinated. These “community cats,” as they are now called, can live a decent life as long as there is a steady food source and they have been altered. No need to just round them up and euthanize them! Next year we’d like to achieve a live release rate of 90 percent or better.

There, I put these goals into print. With your help we can achieve them. This is not something the shelter can do without the help, support and active participation of the community. It’s up to you to get your pets tagged and chipped so that they can be returned to you, take advantage of the free cat (and low-cost dog) spays and neuters so we don’t have an influx of puppies and kittens this spring. And adopt from the shelter so our animals have a chance of a loving home. Together we can do it and help a lot more animals.

Upcoming events:
Meet the Bunny, second Saturday of each month (next is Jan. 12), 1-5:30 p.m. Meet our adoptable rabbits, have your care questions answered by our knowledgeable rabbit volunteers, bring your rabbit for a free nail trim and support our small animals by shopping our Bunny Boutique for fresh hay, treats and toys.

Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at

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