As we head into this holiday season, let’s consider shelter animals and how their situation can be improved in Yolo County. Dr. Kate Hurley, UC Davis’ Koret Shelter Medicine Program director, and many others across our nation have joined the “No-Frill No-Kill” movement. Advocates of this approach to animal sheltering believe care and adoption rates can be improved without increasing costs. To do this, animal intake and length of stay have to be reduced.
To reduce animal intake, pet food, medical, behavioral and re-homing alternatives should be available. Free pet food helps families in need keep their pets. Providing medical care and behavioral counseling also may keep a pet in its home. If these options do not solve the problem, finding an alternative to the animal shelter may be the best outcome.
Feral and abandoned cats are a significant problem for shelters because many are unadoptable. Trap Neuter Return programs help to solve this problem humanely. Such programs keep healthy feral/abandoned cats out of shelters by altering, vaccinating and returning them to their former community. In March 2010, San Jose Animal Care and Services and a nonprofit instituted a cooperative TNR program. The shelter alters the cats and identifies them with microchips and ear tips. The nonprofit returns the cats to their original location and manages community education and outreach.
Reducing length of stay in shelters increases quality of care and adoptions. It also reduces stress and illness. Dr. Hurley recommends streamlining intake and evaluation procedures and removing unnecessary barriers for adoption or rescue. She also recommends “fast tracking” highly adoptable pets to free up kennel space for pets needing more time. Financial savings from reduced intake and length of stay are then used to amplify animal care and outreach.
Implementing a “No-Frill No-Kill” animal shelter involves thoughtful planning, reorganization and accurate record-keeping. Building and maintaining resource lists, counseling owners/finders, scheduling intake appointments and developing community and media outreach all reduce intake. Accurate record-keeping monitors success and leads the way to further improvements through grants and fundraising.
With committed leadership, hard work, dedicated staff and volunteers a “No-Frill No-Kill” animal shelter can even become a state-of-the-art 21st century animal shelter that a community can be proud of. Might this be possible in our Yolo County? For the sake of our pets, we can hope so.
Life can bring unexpected joy to pets and people. On Sept. 15, Peanut, a senior Chihuahua from the Front Street animal shelter in Sacramento, was adopted because Bill Kaiser happened to hear about “Pups in the Park” while listening to the Saturday morning news on Channel 3.
Bill decided to drop by this pet adoption event where he saw Peanut. It was love at first sight. Before the end of the day, Peanut was adopted and on his way to his new forever home with Bill, Bill’s wife Teresa and their other dogs. Peanut is now called Buster because he’s like Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants, a good catch.
“Buster is an absolutely sweet dog,” Bill says. “I can’t believe anyone didn’t want him. He gets along with my other dogs. He has a yard to play in and goes in and out of the dog door. Buster is in seventh heaven.” Life can be mighty sweet!
Ways to help
Bring pet food marked STEAC to Yolo SPCA’s Thrift Store at 920 Third St. in downtown Davis to help families in need keep their pets. Small dog food is especially welcome. Become a Yolo SPCA volunteer. Go to www.yolospca.org and click “Volunteer” on the sidebar.
— Evelyn Dale of Davis is a volunteer and advocate for shelter animal welfare. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column is published monthly.