Jacksonville, FL

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

Jacksonville is a city of 837,000 people on the northeast coast of Florida.  It is the largest city in Florida and the 12th largest city in the United States. The city is located in Duval County, which has a population of about 865,000. The governments of the city and county were consolidated in 1968. The Jacksonville metro area has over 1.3 million people, which is the 4th largest metro area in Florida after Miami, Tampa-St. Petersburg, and Orlando.

The Jacksonville Animal Care and Protective Services Division (ACPSD) is a city-run department that handles animal control and sheltering for the city and Duval County. The shelter accepts owner surrenders with no noted restrictions except for a small fee. It does not perform owner-requested euthanasia.

ACPSD works closely with two large non-profits in the city. The Jacksonville Humane Society (JHS) takes in some strays and adoptable owner surrenders and pulls animals from ACPSD. First Coast No More Homeless Pets (FCNMHP) offers low-cost spay-neuter, vaccinations, and veterinary care, and does over 30,000 spay-neuter surgeries per year.  FCNMHP collaborates with ACPSD and Best Friends Animal Society in a program called Feral Freedom  that  has made Trap-Neuter-Return the default solution for feral cats in Jacksonville.

In 2014 the city of Jacksonville and Duval County became one of the largest No Kill jurisdictions, with a live release rate for ACPSD of 92%. If animals who died or were lost in shelter care are counted as euthanasias, the modified live release rate was 90% for 2014. Combined shelter statistics for ACPSD and JHS have been provided by JHS, but are not in the format I use for calculations. JHS’s live release rate was even higher than ACPSD’s, though. Total intake for ACPSD and JHS for the year was 17,099, which is about 20 animals per 1000 people. That intake number does not include the feral cats who go through the Feral Freedom program.

At the 2014 Best Friends national conference, the Jacksonville coalition presented a playbook detailing how they got to No Kill. For years they have had a heavy reliance on spay-neuter programs, including their model feral cat program, to bring down intake. The coalition is also doing a lot of adoptions – ACPSD and JHS did over 10,000 adoptions in 2014. That is 12 adoptions per 1000 people.

ACPSD’s live release rate was 35% or less from the year 2000 up until Scott Trebatoski was hired as director in late 2008. The live release rate climbed to 50% in 2009, his first full year as director, then went to 74% in 2012 and 85% in 2013. Trebatoski left ACPSD in March 2014 to become director of the Hillsborough County (Tampa) shelter, and was replaced by Nikki Harris. Harris previously worked for the Nebraska Humane Society and FCNMHP before moving to ACPSD as shelter manager.

Jacksonville-Duval County is counted in the Running Totals as a 90%+ community.

Alachua County, FL

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

Alachua County is located in north central Florida. The county contains the city of Gainesville, which has a population of about 124,000, and several small towns, including High Springs, Newberry, and the town of Alachua. The combined population of the city and county is about 247,000.

Animal control, stray intake, and intake of owner surrenders is performed for the county by a municipal agency, Alachua County Animal Services. I verified in a phonecall to the shelter that it serves the entire population of Alachua County, including Gainesville and the towns in the county. I was told that the shelter accepts owner surrenders from county residents with no conditions, except for a small fee for unlicensed and unvaccinated animals.

The shelter works with a coalition of five local non-profits — the Alachua County Humane Society (a member of the Million Cat Challenge), Helping Hands Pet Rescue, Gainesville Pet Rescue, Puppy Hill Farm, and Haile’s Angels Pet Rescue. Another important non-profit in Alachua County is No More Homeless Pets, which has a low-income spay-neuter program called Operation Petsnip. The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine has a program, Operation Catnip, that does TNR for feral and unowned cats. Veterinarians at the Maddie’s Fund Shelter Medicine program, including Dr. Julie Levy, have been working with Alachua County shelters for years. Last but not least, the Wagmore Foundation has provided assistance.

The shelter and its rescue partners have reported to the media that they achieved an 86% live release rate for 2014. (The media report did not contain full statistics.) Over 850 dogs and cats were adopted in a 2-day Maddie’s Fund adoption event in 2014, and almost 1500 were adopted out during the 3-month ASPCA Rachel Ray Challenge. Operation Petsnip sterilized over 4000 dogs and cats and Operation Catnip sterilized more than 2100 cats. The shelter is going to try for 90% in 2015. It is planning to hire a pet-retention specialist, and is mulling over some admission changes.

Maddie’s Fund sponsored a project in Alachua County from 2002 to 2009 to help the coalition bring up the county’s live release rate, which was only 29% in the year 2000. The Maddie’s Fund project formally ended in 2009, but the coalition members continued to work together and the project collected statistics through mid-2013. The most recent full statistics posted by Maddie’s Fund for the coalition were for calendar year 2011, where the live release rate was approximately 70% with an intake of about 9600 animals.

Alachua County, FL, is counted in the Running Totals as an 80%+ community.