News of the Week 05-24-15

The big news this week is that Austin has selected Tawny Hammond as the new director of the Austin Animal Center. Hammond was previously the director of the Fairfax County, Virginia, animal shelter, which had a live release rate of over 90% during her tenure. She starts her new job on June 15th. Fairfax County is similar in population to Austin, but shelter intake in Austin is much higher. Intake in Fairfax was 3,747 in 2013, whereas the Austin Animal Center usually receives about 17,000 animals yearly. Austin has a rescue partner in Austin Pets Alive! that takes in thousands of animals each year from the city shelter, though.

Waco, Texas, has gone from a 36% live release rate in 2013 to a 90%+ live release rate so far this year. City leadership has been solidly behind the effort, and they called in a consultant group, Target Zero, to help. Here is a Q&A about the process with three of its leaders, and here is a column from the mayor including comments on work yet to be done.

Chester County SPCA in Pennsylvania is celebrating its recent achievement of No Kill status with its Forget-Me-Not annual festival.

A city named The Colony, which is a suburb of Dallas, Texas, is a No Kill community with over 36,000 human residents. Its animal services department reports a euthanasia rate of 9% for 2014.

We often hear that the state of Maine is No Kill. I’m not aware of any source for Maine statistics, but here is an article about one Maine shelter that has a 90% live release rate.

The Bay Area Humane Society in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is setting up an owner-to-owner rehoming page as an option. This is a great idea for owners who have to give up a pet and want the peace of mind of knowing the new owners. It also allows owners to foster-in-place until their pet can go to a new home.

3-D printing for animal prostheses is creating some amazing results. It has been used to make a non-standard prosthesis for a dog, and now it’s created a titanium lower jaw for a severely injured turtle. Amazing stuff.

Another great story from KC Pet Project. When a trucker was taken sick in Kansas City, far from home, and had an extended hospital stay, the shelter took in his dog and arranged to board it past the 10-day shelter hold time. Trucker and dog are now on their way home to Arkansas.

A cat cafe has popped up in San Jose.

Natalie DiGiacomo has written an introduction for Million Cat Challengers to HSUS’s Adopters Welcome initiative. The most interesting part of this article to me was her observation that in spite of research showing the effectiveness of removing barriers to adoption and the practical success of open adoption in shelters that have tried it, barriers to adoption “just keep hanging around.” Hopefully that will not be true for much longer. It has now been over 15 years since some of the major players at the national level started pushing for adoption reform, so this is one paradigm that should long since have been mainstream.

There’s something of a bandwagon of shelters signing up for the dog facial recognition app, Finding Rover. Napa County in California and the Fluvanna SPCA in Virginia are the latest to sign on.

A nice story from Arin Greenwood giving some of the history of the Vicktory dogs, on the occasion of the death of Ray.

Lots of enrichment ideas for shelter dogs.

Pets Alive Middletown hosted a Dogs Playing for Life seminar recently, and John Sibley has written a very interesting blog post about it. Large groups of dogs playing together can work near miracles for everything from aggression to lack of socialization.

Daily rounds for shelter pets. What a great idea! A check-up by a shelter professional on every pet, every day, can identify issues before they become problems. I’ve often wondered at the high number of animals “lost” in shelter care at some facilities. With a daily check on each and every animal, shelters can find out within hours when an animal goes missing, and have a much better chance of figuring out where that animal is. Also, a daily check can catch illnesses and behavior problems early when they are easier to deal with, thus saving time and resources for the shelter.