Animal Humane is focused on increasing adoptions and reducing euthanasia both in Albuquerque and throughout New Mexico. We have implemented many programs, including upgrading our campus facilities now underway, to achieve these goals. Managed Admissions is the next step along this path and is currently in use by many leading shelters to reduce euthanasia and increase adoptions.
Prior to admissions by appointment, we had no control over the number of animals that would come into our care each day. We often experienced a flood of animals which hindered our ability to provide the best care possible. The high volume of animals also led to increased stress and illness in our shelter.
The appointment process allows us to be better prepared for the number of animals we take in each day. We will have a kennel ready for pets when they arrive. During the appointment, we will be able to gather very specific information about the animals coming into our care so we are able to find them appropriate new homes as quickly as possible.
Since January 2010, we have saved 100% of the healthy pets that have come to us. Our goal is to save all treatable pets as well. These are pets that have either a medical or behavioral condition that given proper care, training or long term medical management can be successfully adopted into new loving homes. The key is to ensure that essential resources are available to provide focused, individual care early in their stay leading to a quicker adoption. We believe with admission by appointment, we will achieve this goal by the end of 2014.
Leading shelters have moved to this method of admissions to better serve the pets and people of their communities. They include:
Managed admission will help us lower euthanasia by only taking the number of pets that we can properly and humanely serve given our available resources. If our resources are stretched too thin, we may be unable to perform behavior modification or life-skills training effectively enough to prepare an animal for adoption. This increases their length of stay, which in turn increases the likelihood they will become ill or behaviorally unsound. In some cases, the frustration caused by being confined for so long causes some animals to become unsafe and therefore unadoptable for public safety reasons, they are euthanized. This is can be prevented if they are given appropriate training early in their stay so they can be adopted out more quickly.
In the case of cats, studies from UC Davis have shown that the longer a cat stays in a shelter, the higher the chances they will come down with upper respiratory infections (URI). In some cases, these cats will be unable to fight off the infection and are humanely euthanized if URI persists. Shorter length of stays keep cats healthier thus reducing this outcome.
Animal Humane has reduced euthanasia by 65% since 2006. Managed admissions is the next step in our progression to ensure all healthy, treatable and manageable pets are re-homed. As we transfer in more animals from New Mexico shelters, their euthanasia rates will decrease as well.
By providing appropriate resources early in a pet’s stay, we prepare them more quickly for adoption, which reduces their length of stay. This allows us to increase transfers of adoptable pets from other shelters.
Many shelters have found that by offering services to individuals to help them re-home pets or solve behavioral issues owner surrenders decrease. When owner surrenders decrease, we will increase our intakes with transfers from New Mexico shelters with high euthanasia through our Project Fetch program. In 2012, we transferred in close to 900 pets from other New Mexico shelters including the Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department (AWD).
In 2012, Animal Humane adopted over 4,200 pets. One of our goals is to increase adoptions through more effective use of our available resources and increased transfers from other New Mexico shelters.
For owners needing help with re-homing their pets, we will have a special AnimalHumaneNM.org webpage that will allow them to post photos and profiles of their pet(s) on our website. Our website is very popular with people looking to adopt, receiving over 1,000 hits a day. We will also provide them a template flyer that they may download and place throughout the community.
For owners experiencing behavioral problems with their pets, we currently provide a free behavior helpline (938-7900) staffed by trained behavior consultants. We also offer Train Humane dog training classes to teach basic obedience. Downloadable PDF fact sheets to address all common behavior issues such as excessive barking or failure to use litter boxes are available on our website (AnimalHumaneNM.org).
Pet owners who are having a difficult time affording the care of their pet may take advantage of our free Emergency Pet Food Bank and low-cost veterinary care in our Donor-Subsidized Clinic. We also offer low-cost spay/neuter services if repeated litters are the reason for surrendering.
For owners who are between pet-friendly housing, we have a partnership with Staybridge Suites, a pet-friendly extended-stay hotel. Pet owners may stay at special Animal Humane reduced-rates for 30 days or longer while they secure new living quarters that will welcome their pet.
We have been considering Managed Admission for several years as one more step in our progression to save more pets’ lives. Our 615 Virginia Street campus is currently undergoing a massive renovation that includes the demolition and remodeling of several buildings that house animals and animal care functions. The project will be on-going until the Spring of 2014. During this time, we will have periods when animal housing is significantly reduced. By using admissions by appointment, we can be sure we do not take in more animals than we can house or humanely care for.
Animal Humane has the same admission criteria we have always had: we will continue to accept all animals except those that are too aggressive to be safely re-homed. Our new process of taking in animals allows us to do more for each pet when he/she comes into our care.
Prior to making this change, we consulted with animal shelters across the country that already accept animals by appointment. Those communities recognized the incredible benefits of admission by appointment and have not experienced an increase in abandoned animals. We expect the same here, but will work with other animal welfare agencies to ensure our community responds the same.
The owner may choose to keep the pet or they may take them to the Animal Welfare Department (city shelter) at 8920 Lomas Blvd. NW or 11800 Sunset Gardens SW. For information call 768-1975. Their charter is public safety and they are better equipped to deal with aggressive animals.
It is possible they will initially see an increase in intakes. We will keep in close touch to monitor the situation. If that happens, we will work with the AWD to transfer in more animals to lighten the impact. We currently transfer in about 300 animals from them annually and will continue to support them in this way.
What other communities have found is that once the public becomes accustomed to the admission by appointment process, intakes at the city shelters return to normal levels.
We will always do the right thing for the animal. We will find a way to bring the pet in, and arrange for a foster or use a boarding kennel partner to help us out temporarily.
At this point, we do not know the exact answer. We do know wait times will be longer in the summer months, when we experience high intake volumes of puppies and kittens.
Strays may be brought to Animal Humane by scheduling an appointment so we can be sure to have the necessary resources ready for them including working to contact their owner. We know there are some cases on which strays cannot be kept in the finder’s household, so we will make every effort to do the right thing for the pet.
We will be using a specially designed appointment scheduling software program currently used by many shelters that will help us manage the appointment process.
We will continue to use the same criteria we have been using for years, accepting all animals except those that too aggressive to be safely re-homed. The only difference in our process will be scheduling appointments to manage intakes according to our available resources.
Animal Humane carefully tracks annual intake, adoption and euthanasia numbers. We will closely monitor the changes in these key indicators.
Project Humane is part of our overall plan to save all healthy and treatable pets by providing improved housing and quarantine facilities for treatable medical conditions. Even with those improvements, we still need to match our resources to the number of pets we take in. We should serve as a model for humane care and treatment of animals and allowing overcrowding makes that impossible.
We will involve the owner in the decision process. They will have the choice to take the pet home, take aggressive animals to the city shelter or they may elect to have us humanely euthanize the pet. In all cases, the owner will be involved in the decision.