At the March 29 Multnomah County Board of Commissioners meeting, Animal Services advocated for Shelter Dreams, a project to build a new shelter in the city of Portland. Animal Services’ current facility in Troutdale is too small and inconveniently located to properly serve the needs of its residents and the visiting public.
After explaining the possible advantages of a centrally located shelter, the presenters asked the board for permission to conduct a formal study examining the feasibility of building a Portland shelter.
The current shelter, which was originally built as a dog kennel, now houses a cattery and a cramped animal hospital, in addition to having space for dogs. There is no designated area for medical isolation, an important practice that separates sick animals from the rest of the group to prevent the spread of illness in close quarters. Animal Services uses the small equipment room as a makeshift isolation room.
Animal Services’ 50 employees and 250 active volunteers work in crowded quarters; some cubicles are located in the building’s hallways. The facility also does not have adequate space to accommodate its visitors. Approximately 300 people visit the shelter each day, crowding into its limited public space to inquire about adoption, bring found animals or access a number of other services.
Many of the shelter’s visitors travel a long way to access the facility’s services. The shelter is located 16 miles from downtown Portland, four miles from the nearest MAX stop and a three-quarters of a mile walk from the nearest bus stop. The shelter’s location also increases the response time of animal control officers in responding to residents. Eighty percent of the officers work in the field is done in Portland, while their offices are based at the Troutdale shelter.
A shelter in Portland would be more accessible and visible, resulting in greater public awareness of Animal Services and the assistance they can provide pet owners. Greater awareness would attract more community partners and volunteers and increase licensing, a practice that enables Animal Services to reunite more pets with owners and creates revenue.
A central location would also enable Animal Services to reach more prospective adopters in order to place more animals in forever homes and reduce euthanasia. Animal Services would be able to provide responsible pet ownership education to more people and reduce the number of abandoned, neglected and abused animals in Multnomah County.
Similar jurisdictions like Denver, Austin and counties in the Los Angeles basin have built new centrally located facilities and have seen increased participation and licensing, as well as reduced euthanasia. For more information, visit www.multcopets.org for additional updates.