Flathead County is located in the northwest part of Montana, along the Canadian border. Its population is about 91,000 people. The county has a municipal shelter, the Flathead County Animal Shelter, which houses animals and adopts them out, and an animal control division that works with the shelter and provides animal control throughout the county. I was told in a telephone conversation with a shelter representative that the shelter also receives strays from the cities of Kalispell (population 20,000), Whitefish (6400), and Columbia Falls (4700). The shelter accepts owner surrenders with a $20 fee, but reserves the right to decline surrenders when full.
The shelter used to be high-kill, but has steadily improved over the years. The shelter’s director, Cliff Bennett, attributes their success to several factors, including foster, volunteer, marketing, and adoption programs as well as spay-neuter efforts and outreach to rescues. A non-profit in Kalispell, Flathead Shelter Friends, provides help and support to the shelter. An article posted on Petfinder describes many of the innovations the shelter has made, including a strong return to owner initiative and many projects to make the animals more comfortable while in the shelter.
It appears that the shelter’s live release rate has been above 90% since 2010. According to a news report, the county had a 9% euthanasia rate in 2010 with an intake of 2200 cats and dogs. And the Flathead Shelter Friends reported, on a page that has since been updated, that the county had a live release rate of 92% in 2011. The shelter’s 2012 statistics are posted on its website and show a 97% live release rate for the year, with an intake of 1950 cats and dogs. In 2013, the shelter had a live release rate of 98%, with an intake of 1764 cats and dogs. If animals who died or were lost in shelter care are counted as part of the euthanasia total, the live release rate was 95% in 2012 and 97% in 2013.
Flathead County, Montana, was originally listed by this blog on April 24, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.