December 8, 2010
Animal Humane Society makes changes in surrender procedures to help animals find homes more quickly
Animal Humane Society can no longer do it alone. For more than 130 years it has placed itself as a community resource to end pet homelessness, but the organization receives far more animals at its five metro area shelters each year than there are homes willing to adopt them. In 2011 Animal Humane Society will implement a substantial change to its operations in an effort to partner with the community to alter this imbalance.
“We will be doing things differently for animals,” says Animal Humane Society President & CEO Janelle Dixon. “And we need the community’s help to begin to see a reduction in the number of animals left homeless each year.”
On January 2, 2011, Animal Humane Society will begin accepting animals only by appointment to facilitate a personal exchange of information with pet owners about their animal. The surrender by appointment process will include a discussion about why a pet owner is surrendering his/her pet and options available to them at Animal Humane Society and with possible other resources. It will also include an exam and evaluation of the animal, the results of which will be shared with the owner prior to the end of the appointment.
“We realize we are a temporary refuge for animals and that a shelter environment places stress on a pet,” says Dixon. “By controlling how and when animals come into our shelters we’ll be able to do more for each individual animal because we can plan for the care they will need when they arrive.”
Currently, the organization takes in more than 33,000 companion animals from the community each year on a walk-in basis — an admissions model that leaves it without control over how and when those animals come into its care and often with little to no information on individual animals. The uncertainty created by the current model places limits on the care each individual animal receives and creates undue stress and illness for the animals in the shelters.
“Our goal is to find a home for every healthy and treatable animal and to do what we can to move animals quickly through our facilities and into new homes,” says Dixon. “We can do that by controlling the flow of animals into our shelters and by learning more about the animals before they come into our care. We realize we are just a temporary refuge for animals and through this process we can have a kennel waiting just for your pet and staff able to care for them immediately.”
The organization will still accept stray animals, but asks the finder of a lost or abandoned animal to first contact their local animal control agency. If the finder chooses to keep the animal in their home, Animal Humane Society asks that they use its online lost and found bulletin board. If animal control or keeping it in their home are not options, the finder can schedule an appointment to bring the stray animal in. Same-day appointments will be accommodated for those who cannot wait for an appointment to bring in a stray.
Animal Humane Society does not anticipate an increase in abandoned animals in the community. Other organizations from around the country that Animal Humane Society consulted with have implemented similar admissions models and found that their communities embraced the change. To ensure the same result locally, Animal Humane Society will put evaluative measures in place with rescue organizations and shelters around the state. If an increase is seen, it will immediately develop solutions with those organizations to address the problem.
The new animal admissions model is part of a broader multi-year Animal Humane Society initiative called Bound for Home which is focused on bringing the community back into balance and reducing euthanasia. In addition to the admissions improvements in January, the organization will also expand its work to reduce animal homelessness by offering an affordable spay/neuter program for modest income households in partnership with a private practice veterinarian in the spring of 2011. It will also secure more homes for animals by increasing its adoption marketing efforts.
The public can call for an appointment starting on December 20, 2010 by contacting the Animal Humane Society Animal Admissions Center at (763) 412-4969.
Work on the initiative began early last year helping to reduce the rate of euthanasia at Animal Humane Society by seven percent in 2009.
Animal Humane Society’s five shelters in Buffalo, Coon Rapids, Golden Valley, Woodbury and St. Paul remain open-admission facilities accepting any animal for any reason.
Video from the press conference