For decades, Oklahoma City operated with only a city animal control facility; there was no humane society in the community until 2007. With a willingness and determination to collaborate, Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Division and the Central Oklahoma Humane Society applied to become an ASPCA Partnership community in 2008.
Oklahoma City, OK: Human Population: 579,999*
What They've Accomplished Together
"The ASPCA Partnership helped us build support in the community, as well as increased our funding from other national and local funders. People could see our commitment to this project and wanted to support us." – Catherine English, Superintendent, Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Division
Challenges They Faced
Like many ASPCA Partnership Communities, Oklahoma City identified Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) as a critical hurdle for increasing the community's LRR.
Additionally, the humane society was still so new that they didn't have software to track adoptions or intake. Baseline data was limited to the city shelter.
Getting Set for Success
During the partnership's ramp-up year, the ASPCA brought in new tracking software and got both partners set up to collect data. ASPCA data specialists then reviewed data from 2007 and 2008 to provide the partners with some baseline trends about their community.
The ASPCA also provided direction and mentors, which included a Community Liaison to oversee strategic goals and a Shelter Consultation Team to review protocols and consult with the partners on all levels of shelter operations. Vaccination on intake —rather than after the health check prior to spay/neuter surgery, as both agencies had been doing—was recommended; both partners made this change in protocol immediately. (The result? Reduced illness in both facilities.)
One of the partners' more successful programs has been Midnight Woofness – a 48-hour marathon adoption event.
In terms of collective impact, these mega adoption events draw hundreds of potential adopters, many who line up just before midnight, ready to adopt from more than a dozen groups. The first Midnight Woofness resulted in 300 dogs and cats finding homes. During their most recent event, 586 dogs and cats were adopted.
"Adoption outreach has turned out to be one of the key pieces of the puzzle for us," says Christy Counts, Executive Director and Founder, Central Oklahoma Humane Society.
"There's no doubt—collecting and reviewing data helped us make better strategic decisions." - Christy Counts, Executive Director and Founder, Central Oklahoma Humane Society
Both agencies have taken things a step further, agreeing on special promotions providing fee-waived adoptions for cats over six months old.Additional joint projects include:
Why It Worked
Most importantly, the Oklahoma City partners were open to change, which created a higher level of trust, not just with the ASPCA, but with each other.
"Developing and solidifying our partnership with the humane society has been important, and having a national partner like the ASPCA bringing knowledge,training and funding into the community has been critical to our overall success. Our successes have helped to increase our momentum and generate confidence in the community." –Catherine English, Superintendent, Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Division
In addition to the growing community support, Oklahoma City also had tremendous support from their mayor and city council. This support would prove crucial to the introduction of TNR and fee-waived adoption programs later on.
Central Oklahoma Humane Society recently added a quarantine facility to theCity's Animal Welfare Division campus, which will be operated by the humane society for a joint Homeward Bound Transport Program.
To reduce health issues in pets slated for transport, the humane society will intercept owner-surrendered pets as they arrive at the city shelter and redirect them to the quarantine facility. After vaccinations and a health check-up, they plan to transport up to 70 pets per month to shelters out of state aboard their ASPCA-funded transport vehicle.
"We may not agree on every issue, but we always agree to talk about the issues facing the animals in our community." - Christy Counts, Executive Director and Founder, Central Oklahoma Humane Society
Locally, the Animal Welfare Division will continue to focus on their ongoing transfer program. In 2011, 4,319 animals – 654 more than the year before – were transferred from the city shelter to local rescue groups and animal shelters.