The Companion Animal Alliance tried about a week ago a new way of connecting pets with new owners through Internet networking.
And it’s worked better than anyone imagined, shelter officials said.
The group that runs the parish animal shelter started posting lists of dogs and cats that were going to be destroyed in 24 to 48 hours because of space needs.
The lists posted on Facebook under “Last Minute Hope for Baton Rouge Animals” spread quickly on the Internet and the response was immediate, said Christel Slaughter, chairwoman of the Companion Animal Alliance board.
“We didn’t know how well it would work,” she said.
The first “last chance list” was published Oct. 24 and of those animals, nine of the 15 dogs listed were saved, according to Lauren Dooley with CAA.
More recently, a “last minute list” was published Saturday and by Sunday every adoptable dog and savable cat was either adopted, rescued or fostered, Dooley wrote in an email to board members.
“A total of 12 dogs and 24 cats that were scheduled to be killed this morning are now safe, and the cages left empty by those animals will allow us to save others,” Dooley wrote.
Slaughter said that people reposted the list, called friends and neighbors and really worked to get the animals homes.
“We want to do it every single day,” she said about the list posting. “Then people will get used to seeing it and will look for it.”
It’s part of a larger effort to move the shelter to the ultimate goal of being a “no kill” shelter and progress is being made, she said.
When they took over the shelter operation, the “save rate” was 20 percent, but as of Oct. 25 the save rate was 49 percent which doesn’t include the animals that are in foster care, Slaughter said.
Although the CAA had a shaky transition in taking over the shelter operations on Aug. 1, there have been improvements based on the reality of the work the group was facing.
“We took over the shelter and were extremely optimistic about the work we wanted to do,” Slaughter said. Then, the group faced the reality and ran into problems with overcrowding and an investigation followed.
“That was a wake-up call,” she said.
So, for the past several months, the group has been working on how to communicate the need for adoptive homes and to help current pet owners keep their pets at home, she said, both of which help manage the number of animals the shelter handles.
Slowing the intake of animals into the shelter will be a long-term process of educating the community about pet ownership and the importance of spaying and neutering pets, she said.
“We were seeing a lot of owner surrender in the beginning,” she said. So staff have started talking with current pet owners about possible ways to address things like behavioral problems to try to keep the pets at home, she said.
“Sometimes people just don’t know enough about pet ownership or responsible pet ownership,” she said.
Another aspect is a more-focused approach on getting pets returned to their owners because the sooner that happens, the more room the shelter will have for other animals.
Getting the dogs and cats into new homes is a second part of the equation and that also involves community outreach and getting the larger community to be a part of the solution, she said.