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Animal Services Hits Record 92% Live Release Rate for 2016

Published on January 11, 2017

Image of Animal Services News Conference

Animal Services posted a record 92 percent live release rate for 2016. The number represents the Shelter’s success in placing homeless pets with families through adoptions and fosters and in reuniting lost animals with owners. It further reinforces the Shelter’s dramatic turnaround from a facility that, nine years ago, used to euthanize 75 percent of the animals surrendered by owners or turned in as strays.

“It can be hard to celebrate because the work never ends,” said Dr. Karen Sheppard, Animal Services Director. “Our Shelter is full now, and the fear of ‘what if our community stops adopting our pets’ is stressful.”

The only real, sustainable and humane way to end euthanasia of healthy animals is to cut off the supply of homeless animals. This entails working at the root of the challenge by spaying and neutering, offering behavior counseling for pet owners, and providing humane education and guidance for both children and adults.

Mayor Tommy Battle praised the Shelter’s efforts in these areas and noted that the intake rate has declined as much as 50 percent in recent years thanks to concerted efforts by the City and Madison County to promote and fund spay and neuter programs. Local veterinarians have also supported the Shelter with affordable spay and neuter options.

“Spay and neuter is key to saving pets,” said Mayor Battle. “We want to work with our community to help them understand we cannot continue to produce this high number of homeless pets.”

Reports show the Shelter saved about 90 percent of the 3,200 dogs turned into the facility and about 95 percent of the 1,910 cats. The Shelter managed another 500 animals including urban wildlife, chickens, goats, potbellied, pigs, horses, etc.

“It was a lot, a lot, a lot of blood, sweat, and tears and we could never do it without the support of Mayor Battle and City Council, my fabulous unrelenting staff, and the combined efforts of all our partnerships,” said Sheppard. “Our volunteers and foster homes, Get Along Little Doggie walking dog program, local rescue groups, social media volunteers, photographers, donors, veterinary community and all of the adopters share in this achievement.”