UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program and Humane Network Develop Consultation Report for The Animal Foundation in Las Vegas

Findings Show Positive Changes and Improved Practices for One of the Nation's Busiest Animal Shelters While Recommending New Programs to Dramatically Increase ‘Live Release’

(Las Vegas - Sept. 16, 2014) -- The Animal Foundation today presented findings to county commissioners on an independent review conducted over the last several months by the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program and the Humane Network. The report and the consultation summary show major improvements over the last seven years in the conditions for animals in the shelter as well as the growth of community programs and a continual reduction of animal intake and euthanasia.


The comprehensive report is the latest independent study conducted by these prestigious review groups and follows a separate evaluation conducted by the Humane Society of the United States in 2007. Immediately after the earlier study, The Animal Foundation actively pursued changes to its animal care practices, staffing and organizational operations.


"The fact that they have built a rock solid foundation of good animal care and management is an achievement that can't be overstated," said Kate Hurley, DVM, MPVM, director of the Shelter Medicine Program of the Center for Companion Animal Health at UC Davis School of Veterinarian Medicine. 


Bonney Brown, president of Humane Network, based in Reno added: “We are excited about the potential at the Animal Foundation and are looking forward to working with them realize their goals of keeping more pets in their homes, increasing pet adoptions and other lifesaving efforts.”


During the research phase, the consulting team reviewed these main areas: Intake; animal flow and pathway planning; outcomes/live release; medical services and veterinary time allocation; foster program and underage kitten care; marketing and development; community programs; and facility and animal housing.


The following are some of the key findings. Recommendations were also listed in the report:


- The Animal Foundation is working to expand "live release" opportunities on several fronts, including ongoing and special event pricing and promotions for adoptions, increased off-site adoptions, and growing its rescue options.


- In the "animal flow and pathway planning" area, critical flow through points were well-staffed, and these services were handled in a timely manner.  They include behavioral evaluation, and post-adoption surgery.


- The evaluation notes that a shelter facility itself is "the single most important physical tool for shelters to meet their mission, care for animals and serve the community's needs." The current facility is limited in nearly every area of animal housing as well as issues involving the roof, flooring and function of the mechanical systems. Its limitations could have a negative impact on animal health, staff efficiency and safety, customer experience, cost management, energy use, and lifesaving success.


- The report determined that The Animal Foundation's veterinary team comprises highly skilled individuals highly dedicated and committed to the organization's mission.


- The Animal Foundation has embarked on an initiative to save more kittens and puppies, including expanding its foster home base and providing training, supplies and medical care. A strong infrastructure now needs to be developed to support this lifesaving program and help it to grow.


Some aspects of the recommendations and plan can move forward quickly, while other parts will be more challenging and take time to implement.


Christine Robinson, director of the Animal Foundation, said:  "We are not satisfied with the status quo. The Animal Foundation is making a solid commitment to lifesaving.  We aim to do all we can to save animals coming into our care. While it is not possible to save them all, we aim to dramatically increase our live release rate for homeless dogs and cats. To achieve our goal of continual, dramatic improvement, The Animal Foundation will keep engaging the community. We will work toward our goal no matter what challenges come our way, but we will also need the support of the community."


Robinson said one of the new goals is to work with municipal partners and start a "Community Cats" program.  The effort, which has worked well in other cities, including Jacksonville, Fla., would involve supporting community members in their efforts to care for un-owned stray and feral cats rather than turning them into the shelter.


"There are many solid recommendations in this report," Robinson said. "We are excited about working with the team from UC Davis and Humane Network in implementing both immediate and long-term strategies while working together with the community as a whole to achieve our mission."