I have just finished our 2016 stats and I’ll share a bit with you. The good news is that we had a live release rate (LRR) of 93% last year. We’re proud of that given that we are a municipal shelter with an open door admission policy (we don’t screen the animals that we accept, except for jurisdiction) and handled 1,100 animals in 2016. We often do get in strays that are sick or severely injured, animals with terminal conditions, dogs with aggression histories and animals with behavioral issues that make them unadoptable. That said, we network with a huge number of rescue groups and other shelters and work with trainers to try and help as many animals as possible.
New homes were found for 176 dogs, 338 cats and 45 rabbits. That’s a lot of meet and greets, adoption contracts signed, landlords called and paperwork gone over. 70 dogs and cats were transferred out to other agencies and in return, 118 were brought in from other shelters that were overflowing (we help when we can!). We took in 250 stray dogs, of which 193 were returned home – that’s 77%! Good but not good enough.
To me the sad number is that of the 244 cats that came in as strays only 38 were reclaimed by their families. Read that again. Sure we could brag that it’s 16% redemption rate which is far above the national average of 2%, but I think it’s dismal. And it means a lot more work for us. That’s 206 cats that we had to do medical on (vaccinations, worming, spay/neuter surgeries, etc.) and get to know to see if they were good with children, other animals and so on. And then try and find new homes. What if they just could go back home? Wouldn’t that be a better happy ending?
I just saw the movie “Lion” and it’s like that story line. The boy in the movie was so lucky that he was adopted into a loving and privileged home and given opportunities that he never would have had in India. But, he actually did have a loving parent and family and didn’t need to be adopted – just reunited with his family! That’s how it is with our strays. How many are just lost pets of loving, worried families? We have people through here daily looking for lost pets – and it’s wonderful when we can make a match! If they all went home then we could concentrate our adoption efforts on those animals surrendered by their families, for any number of reasons, and truly need new homes. I put down a goal for this year to raise the number of cats returned to owner to 20%. How can we make that happen?
We already offer all animals in our jurisdiction (Rohnert Park and Cotati – city limits) free ID tags and free microchips, thanks to the Animal Shelter League’s “Get Them Back Home” program. This is the two best ways to have your lost pet returned to you. I compare the ID tag to a seatbelt – your first line of defense and a very visible way to allow anyone who might find your pet to contact you. The microchip, which is hidden in the body, is like the airbag. A hidden emergency back -up system in case the collar comes off or the tag becomes illegible. The problem is how to get the word out about these programs! Any ideas how to reach those who don’t read this paper? We’re open to all suggestions!
Registration for our popular Kidz ‘n Critters summer camp program for students in 2nd-7th grades is now open. $125 per camper/$25 sibling discount for a one-week fun camp experience. Each session is M-F, 8:30-1 p.m. and includes a camp T-shirt.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.