• Susan Houser

News of the Week 7-19-15

The mayor of Seattle proclaimed the second annual Seattle Kitty Hall on July 10th. The proclamation renames the City Hall for an afternoon of welcoming the kitties. One of the “whereas” clauses in the proclamation tells prospective cat owners to head to the Seattle Animal Shelter and adopt. This year city hall welcomed 11 kittens from the shelter, and people were wrapped around the building waiting to get in.


And what would the news be without more cat cafes? Brother Wolf has received unanimous approval from the city commission in Asheville, North Carolina, to build a cat cafe downtown. A vote by the city council is set for September. As Brother Wolf founder Denise Bitz said, “cat cafes are being built all over the country.” A college student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has raised $15,000 of her $138,000 goal to open Nebraska’s first-ever cat cafe. Both of the planned cat cafes will follow the model of having two rooms side-by-side, one for serving the coffee, the other for mingling with the cats.


In Million Cat Challenge news, the Challenge staff are having a celebration this Wednesday, July 22, at 3PM EST on their Facebook page, to mark a quarter million cats saved. The counter for cats saved by participating shelters can be seen here. Another big news item on the Million Cat Challenge front is that the shelter serving Edmonton, Canada – the Edmonton Humane Society – has joined the Challenge. It’s the first shelter in western Canada to join, and it’s big – they take in almost 13,000 cats every year.

This post on the Maddie’s blog has a great discussion of why managed admission is an important concept, and how to get started in implementing it.


The Delaware situation just got stranger. This article provides a good overview of the background of the situation – in a nutshell, a non-profit, First State Animal Center and SPCA, has been providing animal control and sheltering by contract for Delaware’s three counties and the city of Wilmington, but a state agency recently received authorization to hire its own animal control officers and take over animal control and related functions in the state as the contracts expire. On July 6, it was reported that First State had announced that after the transition it would not house any strays picked up by state officers and would only take in owner surrenders. Everyone thought that this transition would happen gradually over the period of 6 to 18 months that the existing contracts still had to run. Then on July 13th the First State board of directors voted to cancel its contracts effective September 15th, which leaves the state scrambling to get a system for animal control and sheltering in place in two months. The good news is that First State plans to become a No Kill agency. The question is what will happen to the state’s strays, confiscated animals, etc., in this unexpectedly abrupt transition.


The city of Austin recently hired Tawny Hammond, the former director of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter in northern Virginia, as its Chief Animal Services Officer. She started work in Austin on June 15th. Now Austin has announced the hiring of another Fairfax County Animal Shelter executive, Kristen Auerbach, as Austin’s Deputy Chief Animal Services Officer. Auerbach was previously the assistant shelter director in Fairfax, and has been serving as interim director there since Hammond accepted the job in Austin.


In other Austin news, Hammond wants to make sure that dogs at the shelter get enough walking time. Hammond says the shelter should be like summer camp for its canine residents, and to help create that atmosphere the shelter is holding information sessions to try to increase the number of dog walkers.


Two examples of shelters working to increase their return-to-owner rates are in the news. One shelter has added a new program, and the other has partially removed a barrier that never should have been there in the first place. The new program is from the Franklin County Dog Shelter and Adoption Center that serves Columbus, Ohio. Dog wardens who pick up stray dogs are now posting a letter-size bright yellow sign at the location where the dog was picked up. The sign identifies the dog and has information on how it can be reclaimed. The Franklin County shelter has a new director, Kaye Dickson, who has only been on the job a few months, and this is one of her initiatives. It will be interesting to see how it works. The other shelter is the Rio Rancho Animal Control Shelter in New Mexico, which noticed an increase in reclaims after it cut its reclaim fee in half. Most people were previously paying $250 to reclaim an animal, and everyone now pays $125. Hopefully the penny will drop for the city and they will realize that they will be even better off if they cut the fee to zero and get more animals out of the shelter quickly.

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