Miami-Dade Animal Services, Humane Society of Greater Miami and The Cat Network joined the ASPCA Partnership in January 2011. Through their Partnership collaboration, the agencies have worked together on several adoption, transfer and spay/neuter initiatives to increase awareness and engage the community in increasing the live release rate.
WhoMiami-Dade County, FL: Human Population, 2,496,435*
Humane Society of Greater Miami
Miami-Dade Animal Services
The Cat Network
What They’ve Accomplished Together
- The Live Release Rate (LRR) increased from 40.5% in 2010 to 49.4% in 2011, and LRR for cats increased by 12.7% in the first year of the partnership.
“The real benefit of the ASPCA Partnership is that there is no longer an ‘us versus them’ mentality. We’re really working together to change things for animals in Miami.”
Challenges They Faced
One significant stumbling block was the existence of traditional, “old school” views on adoption practices. When trying to find new homes for harder to place animals, such as senior pets, adult cats and pit bull mixes, the partners weren’t taking advantage of proven strategies like reduced-fee and fee-waived adoptions. The issue wasn’t that they were unfamiliar with these techniques; they simply had strong concerns about potential consequences and were very reluctant to put these strategies in place.
What Worked- After initial reluctance to offering reduced-fee and fee-waived adoption promotions, the partners introduced reduced-fee adoption events, like St. Catrick’s Day and Half Price Hump Days (Wednesday cat adoption specials) to test out the marketing strategy. The result? In addition to increased traffic and adoption rates during the adoption events, the partners experienced the same boost before and after the events.
- When the ASPCA’s Shelter Consultation Team recommended that Miami-Dade Animal Services and Humane Society of Greater Miami reduce the number of animals they were housing into each kennel, the partners were concerned that more dogs would be left on city streets and fewer pets would be adopted. The result was just the opposite.
“By not overfilling rooms, we actually kept the pet population at a more manageable level for us,” says Donna Tallon, executive director of the Humane Society of Greater Miami. “And, we’re still adopting out as many animals – even more – than before, because animals are seen better and adopted more quickly.”
“This partnership is all about looking for ways we can work together to help animals in Miami.” – Kathleen Labrada, Chief, Operations and Enforcement, Miami-Dade Animal Services
- The Miami-Dade County partners all agree that the single most important program to increasing the live release rate in their community has been their transfer program. The program not only moves pets from Miami-Dade Animal Services to the Humane Society of Greater Miami every week as space is available, but transports both dogs and cats to adoption-guarantee shelters in other states. So far, more than 1,000 cats have been relocated to rescue partners for adoption since January 2011.
- ASPCA grants for equipment and spay/neuter subsidies helped the partners expand their spay/neuter capacity. Mobile clinics once on the road only two to three days a week are now operating four days a week around Miami. Several joint spay/neuter events already have resulted in more than 254 surgeries for feral and free-roaming cats.
Why It Worked
Before joining the partnership, the three agencies rarely collaborated or met in person, and the monthly face-to-face meetings that were part of the program created a shift in relationships.
“We got to know each other very well during the first year and rid ourselves of lots of preconceived notions about each other,” says Charlene Grall, president of The Cat Network. “Building those relationships and learning about the challenges each of us faced was incredibly invaluable to each of our groups.”
The Miami-Dade County partners are also increasing LRR through shared adoption promotions (in the past, each agency coordinated and promoted their own events) and joint spay/neuter events. A Beat the Heat Campaign that offered $15 sterilizations for cats resulted in a total of 569 surgeries in five days.
Ready for their second year, the Miami-Dade partners have already met on their ASPCA Logic Model Plan and set goals to expand their transport program to deliver more dogs and cats to more adoption-guarantee animal shelters out of state.
“Our desire to work together has been very strong.”
They also are inputting their baseline data into a Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GIS is cutting-edge technology that takes data, like individual animal records with addresses, and plots those points on a map to identify the locations that most of the animals are coming from and determine which interventions to apply in those areas. Through GIS mapping, the Miami-Dade partners will be able to identify at-risk neighborhoods in need of additional services.