MCAS exceeds national standards for live release rates, lays out successes and challenges

February 21, 2017

Multnomah County Animal Services(link is external) director Jackie Rose updated Multnomah County Board members Thursday on overall services, accomplishments and challenges ahead for the animal shelter in Troutdale.

From Client and Field Services to Community Outreach, Animal Care and Health,  Rose praised the progress and work force at the shelter.

“Every single day  it’s about saving lives and that’s what we do everyday,” said Rose. “And we really are interested in furthering what we can do to be even more progressive and innovative.  My goal, which is maybe a bit grandiose, is to be seen as one of the top premier organizations in the country, if not in the Pacific Northwest.”

Last fiscal year the shelter :

  • issued more than 50,000 licenses,  with 90,000 active licenses on record every year.
  • MCAS officers received over 22,000 community calls  and issued more than 16,000 notices of infractions.  
  • staff performed 1323 spay and neuter surgeries for cats and 566  for dogs.
  • more than 200 families provided foster care for pets
  • and volunteers contributed more than 87,509 hour to shelter operations

The shelter also served about 6200 animals down from more than 7300 in 2011.

“That is a positive, that is something that we’re very proud of,”  said Rose.  “ These numbers, the decreases are specifically related to increased activities on spay and neuter surgeries ….  and these numbers follow national trends, so we’re keeping up with the national averages and in many ways we’re  surpassing them.”

2016 numbers showed that 38 percent of animals were adopted, 28 percent returned to owners, 23 percent transferred to other partners in the community,  6 percent were euthanized.

Rose emphasized one of the shelter’s most notable accomplishments -- its save rate or  percentage of animals that left the shelter alive -- either through adoption, return to owner, transfer to another organization or any other lifesaving program.

In the past decade, the  number has consistently and substantially climbed for both dogs and cats.  

Last year, MCAS reunited more pets with their owners, found more homes for adoptable pets, and transferred more animals to community partners for adoption than ever before.

“In 2006 it was about a 71 percent live-release rate,” said Rose. “I’m happy to report that in 2016, it was a 96.2 live release rate (for dogs).  That’s really incredible. The  national threshold we try to accomplish is 90 percent.”

For cats,  the number is even more dramatic with a 37.8 percent live release rate in 2006 compared to a 92.5 percent live release rate in 2016.   

“We no longer euthanize any adoptable animals,” stressed Rose. That practice has stopped.”

Thursdays briefing comes after a 2016 county audit that found improvements were needed in: inoculation and license tracking for pets, bill collection on debts,  management and financial guidance, and an updated data collection system.

Rose reviewed the steps the shelter has taken since the audit and since she  joined the team in the fall of 2015.

A number of financial cost saving measures have been implemented: from cell phone usage and advertising costs to the use of donated dog-food.

The shelter also revised its deferral fee process.

“We no longer have an automatic financial deferral program. We now have a reduced fee scale which allows us, based on someone’s income to reduce the charges for them as well as institute a formalized payment plan.  We now have a 6-month payment plan with equalized payments.” (not including adoption fees)

A new data software system is slated to launch in July.

“That will make our lives so much better from an operational stand-point as well as a data-driven system. “

The shelter has also:

  • reviewed and revised all program policies/procedures
  • restructured its management team with an emphasis on program development and data management
  • added two positions for enhanced assessment and enrichment for shelter animals
  • extended shelter hours
  • expanded partnership with Good Neighbor Vet for free rabies clinic from one Saturday per month to every Saturday.

Rose noted there are still challenges including needing additional staff positions for animal care,  a need for a new facility, and services for homeless pet owners.

The presentation ended with one of the three videos shown to board members of pets either being reunited(link is external) or showcased for adoption(link is external).

“This is all about the animals and the people we serve--this is why we’re here. This is our job. It is our mission. The people who work for us, they work from heart and they work from passion."