Porter County Animal Shelter Turnaround Continues

Porter-County-Animal-Shelter-LogoThe Porter County Animal Shelter today released animal intake and outcome data for the first three quarters of 2016 that demonstrates a major across the board improvement and maintains their status as a No Kill shelter.

Intakes between January 1 and September 30, 2016 totaled 650 animals, a nearly 30% reduction from the same period last year. There was a significant reduction of 25% in the number of stray animals coming to the shelter, but there were also noted improvements in the number of owner surrenders (17% reduction), adoption returns (48% reduction) and seized animals (85% reduction).

The number of strays at the shelter have declined with the establishment of a “Lost & Found Pets In Porter County” Facebook page which directly matches animals found by the public with their owners. The Shelter also maintains a Lost & Found log that is remotely accessible by Animal Control officers who can match a reported stray animal with their owners. Both of these programs have proven extremely successful in avoiding placement of stray animals at the Shelter.

The reduction in the number of adoption returns is attributable to a more comprehensive adoption criteria which better assures that there is an appropriate match between the animal and the adopter, and that the adopter has a better understanding of responsible pet ownership. The shelter also offers owners with counseling and resources to address problems that they may have with their pets, providing them with the tools that they need to avoid owner surrender.

“I believe that the improvements in our animal intakes are the direct result of programs and procedures that we have implemented at the Shelter,” said Shelter Director Toni Bianchi. “It is clear that we are making very positive progress in better managing our shelter population.”

Outcomes between January 1 and September 30, 2016 totaled 629 animals which is 97% of the animal intakes during that time. The outcome/intake ratio for the same period in 2015 was also 97%. 237 animals were adopted in the first three quarters of 2016, which was over 37% of the total outcomes. This compares to 41% of outcomes in the same period last year. This slight reduction is attributable to the more comprehensive and stringent adoption criteria established by the Shelter that has reduced the rate of adoption returns by 48%. 155 animals (24.6% of total outcomes) were transferred to rescue organizations, compared to 26% in the same period last year. Many approved rescue organizations utilized by the Shelter in past years were at capacity during much of 2016.

197 animals were returned to their owners (31% of outcomes) compared to 24% in the same period last year, an improvement resulting from the increased use of social media through the Lost & Found Pets in Porter County Facebook page.

As of September 30, 2016, a total of 27 animals were euthanized this year for a euthanization rate of 4.29%. This compares to 64 animals euthanized during the same period last year at a euthanization rate of 7.12%. A year to year comparison demonstrates a 57% reduction in the number of animals euthanized and a 40% reduction in the euthanization rate. The standard for achieving no kill status is that the shelter maintains a euthanization rate below 10%. Of the animals euthanized through September 30, 2016, only 1 was for aggression and 26 for medical reasons.

“The achievements made by Shelter staff have been incredible but our work is not done,” said Bianchi. “We have been able to move from a constant over-capacity mode to where we are now staying within the animal capacity limits. We have already begun planning additional program enhancements that can only be implemented when we move to the new shelter building.”

In addition to the previously mentioned improvements of the Lost & Found Pets In Porter County Facebook page to match lost animals to their owners; the use of the Lost & Found log used by Animal Control to match stray animals to their owners; the more comprehensive adoption criteria which better assures that there is an appropriate match between the animal and the adopter; and the provision of counseling and resources for pet owners to avoid pet surrenders, the Shelter has also implemented the following changes to their policy and procedures:

  1. Implementation of intake quarantine policy: Early in 2016, the Shelter implemented a five day quarantine policy for all new animal intakes. During this quarantine, the animal’s health condition is monitored. If no signs of illness are noted, the animals are then moved to the adoption rooms. If a health condition is identified, the animals are transferred to medical isolation and treated before moving into the adoption rooms. This policy has achieved the following results:
    1. For the first time in many years, there have been no significant outbreaks of disease in the Shelter.
    2. The number of animals euthanized for medical reasons has been reduced by 40%
    3. In 2015, a total of $142,000 was paid for veterinary care. The Shelter will end 2016 with approximately $75,000 paid for veterinary care, a reduction of $67,000 (47%).
  2. Implementation of animal socialization and behavior programs: Shelter staff are now routinely spending more time working with and training animals who demonstrate behavior challenges to make them more social and adoptable. It has also contributed to a 95% reduction in the number of animals euthanized because of behavioral issues.
  3. Improvements in volunteer recruitment and training: Early in 2016, the Shelter implemented an overhaul of their volunteer training and volunteer management programs. The training was enhanced to a three session series with much more comprehensive education to increase both volunteer knowledge and safety. Where the previous program would draw only two or three potential volunteers per month, the new program has been consistently drawing over 10 people per month. In addition, the volunteer management is much more comprehensive in matching volunteers with specific tasks, greatly increasing both efficiency and the number of volunteer hours per month.
  4. Animal spay/neuter policy changes: The Shelter has implemented changes to their spay/neuter policy to assure that animals are spayed or neutered BEFORE an adopter can take the animal home. Previously, adopters would be able to take unaltered pets and be given 90 days to spay or neuter their pet. This policy change has resulted in assuring that 99% of animals adopted from the Shelter are spayed or neutered, and dramatically reduced the number of staff hours that were previously spent following up with adopters to assure that their animals were altered.

“The Board of Commissioners couldn’t be more proud of the turnaround that Toni and the entire Shelter staff have accomplished so far this year in what we all know to be very challenging conditions at the current Shelter building,” said Commissioner Laura Blaney. “We can’t wait to see how much more they can achieve when we move to the new Shelter in 2017.”