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|Shelter Profile: More Transparency = More Adoptions
In an effort to save more lives, Manatee County Animal Service in Florida increased its transparency and started listing on its website the date when a particular animal may be killed. Read More »
Stage Two: Make Additional Changes to Help Even More Cats
Keep Accurate and Detailed Records
When shelters track the number of animals entering the facility and how they leave (returned to owner, adopted, etc.), they have a clear picture of how they are improving, can assess the effectiveness of their programs over time, and can keep track of how their resources are being allocated. It is beneficial for records to include specific categories of cats (stray, feral, socialized, etc.) and to also document the animal’s original location; who brought her to the shelter and why; and the animal’s outcome, including adoption, transfer, or death. For any death, list the reason for death. It is also beneficial to track the number, type, and result of calls you receive from the public.
Accurate and detailed records can help your shelter in a number of ways:
- They provide immediate information about where and how resources are being used to help identify needs and evaluate the success or failure of programs. You can analyze the effectiveness of your lifesaving programs and determine whether the amount of money spent on spay/neuter impacts the number of animals brought into the shelter.
- They can help you identify high-impact areas and neighborhoods for Trap-Neuter-Return and other efforts. You can see which zip codes, neighborhoods, and other areas the most cats—and phone calls—are coming in from.
- They can help you make the case to potential donors, foundations, or partners on why they should support your shelter’s work. People want to know exactly how their money will be used, and will be more likely to donate if they can see that your shelter is making improvements over time.
- They build public support. Being transparent about your shelter’s new programs to protect and improve more lives, and then sharing the change in your statistics as you implement those programs, ultimately improves relations with the community. People want to help where they know they are saving lives. Being open with them will build community-wide confidence. It is important to get buy-in from your constituents, and transparency is a good public relations move to promote your humane programs.
Implement a Shelter-Sponsored TNR Program
TNR is the only humane and effective method of care for community cats. Shelters that start TNR programs can see dramatic results in a relatively short time period. They tend to see significant reductions in kitten and cat intakes, and then increases in their save rates.
Richmond SPCA started a TNR program in 2004. Volunteers humanely trap community cats and bring them to Richmond SPCA’s spay/neuter clinic where they are sterilized free of charge.
“Feral cats are remarkably good at taking care of themselves,” says Richmond SPCA CEO Robin Starr, who implemented the shelter’s TNR program and many other lifesaving initiatives. “With time, patience and support of TNR programs, we can prevent the continued growth of these colonies and keep the cats healthy and well cared for by dedicated volunteers. Feral cats do us no harm, and they deserve to live out their lives peacefully in the only environment they’ve ever known.”
Learn how to implement an organizational TNR program.
You and your staff can learn how to conduct TNR through Alley Cat Allies’ free webinars.
Learn how to practice targeted TNR, which involves identifying which areas or neighborhoods have the most people calling about cats or bringing in cats, and then targeting TNR efforts in those areas.
Purchase Traps to Loan to the Public for TNR
Consider charging a refundable deposit to ensure that traps are returned. Learn how to use the traps and become familiar with trapping techniques. Include information about how to trap community cats with each trap, and always make sure people borrowing traps sign an agreement stating that the traps will be used only for the purpose of TNR of outdoor cats. Show borrowers how to set the traps before they leave your facility. HOPE Animal Shelter in Tucson, Arizona, the Sacramento SPCA, and BARC in Houston are just a few of the many shelters that run trap loan programs. Review our guide to starting a trap depot.
Strengthen and Expand Your Adoption Programs and Foster Network
Having creative and innovative adoption programs and a large and diverse foster network can make a huge difference in animals’ lives.
Here are some approaches we’ve seen at shelters around the country that are committed to improving their save rates:
- Keep adoption hours during weekends and evenings to improve shelter visitation rates. Increase off-site adoption events.
- Improve the access of animal rescue and breed-specific rescue groups to your shelter by building partnerships and creating outreach protocols. The City of Chicago’s Animal Care and Control partners with 230 rescue groups!
- Increase the number of homes available for fostering the animals who enter your shelter. Make sure your community knows you need foster homes by posting on social media, posting flyers in community centers and stores, and by sending out a press release. Call local veterinary offices and ask whether any staff members are interested in fostering. Host regular orientation sessions at your shelter or a local library for potential foster volunteers. Ask current foster volunteers to speak about their experiences at the event. Feature foster volunteers in newsletters and on social media to show appreciation and create a sense of community within the shelter volunteer network.
NEXT: Stage Three: Become a Model Shelter for Cats