Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Oakdale, Ca Animal Control Trying to Reduce Kill Rate

Oakdale Animal Control in Stanislaus County, California wants to reduce its kill rate. The shelter has increased the number of dogs and cats euthanized from 19% in 2009 to 29% in 2010.

Animal control officials believe the increase is due in part to the poor economy, lack of identified dogs, and the cost of picking up a dog. The shelter charges a $20 pick-up fee for castrated animals and a $70 fee for uncastrated animals. There is an additional $5/day boarding fee and also a licensing fee of $10 of an altered animal and $50 for an unaltered animal.

I appreciate Oakdale wants to see its kill rate go down. That is commendable. I love that they are working with local utility companies to include information about licensing/spaying in utility bills. That is creative, outside the box thinking. After all, most people get a utility bill!

In addition to working with local agencies, there are other options available that can be easily implemented.

Canvassing: Oakdale plans on canvassing neighborhoods. They are issuing citations for unlicensed and unvaccinated animals. This is not a good way to increase compliance or improve public relations. Some alternatives to this traditional method of canvassing:
  • Coordinate spay/neuter and/or vaccine clinics with local veterinarians and rescue agencies. These events should be within walking distance of canvassed neighborhoods and either the same day or the weekend following the initial interaction. 
  • Offer a sliding scale payment option for the vaccine and castration clinics. Most people, when given this freedom of choice (and a suggested payment) pay fair market value.
  • On the day of the vaccine/castration clinics, waive the initial license fee and license animals then and there.
  • Offer incentives - a raffle or a drawing for anyone who participates.
  • Citations are a last resort and should only be issued after two attempts at getting people to vaccinate or castrate their animals.
Licensing Fees: If compliance rates are important, reconsider the traditional licensing fee structure AND accessibility of licensing forms.
  • Waive fees during pre-selected days of the year. Perhaps once a month, offer an amnesty day. Advertise in the media. Make it a fun event, inviting vendors (who can pay to help offset the costs) and other rescues. Promote adoptable animals as well!
  • Make sure licensing forms are EVERYWHERE! Work with local veterinarians to at least ask clients to fill out the licensing form when they get their dog vaccinated. Licensing forms should be available everywhere a person with a dog or cat might go: vet offices and pet stores are obvious. More readily accessible places, like supermarkets, are good places too. Include vaccine clinic times and locations.
  • Offer the initial form on-line.
  • Significantly reduce the licensing fee for unaltered animals, especially if there is concern that low-income persons would have a difficult time complying. 
Improving compliance rates will increase the likelihood that well-loved pets enter the shelter system with identification already in place. More importantly, canvassing with the intent to community build, can create long-lasting, positive relationships with your constituents. When they next decide to get a dog or cat, they will be more likely to consider adopting one.

These are two basic concepts that any shelter can implement with great success. Rethinking the traditional animal control paradigm will save lives and it sounds like that is something Oakdale cares about. I wish them the best.

No comments: