In April 2008, Charleston Animal Society, Pet Helpers and Humane Net eagerly joined the ASPCA Partnership, seeing it as an opportunity to bring needed resources to the organizations and build a more collaborative atmosphere for community change. Working together to shape a community vision, the Charleston partners delivered a 180-degree turnaround: In just four years, Charleston went from euthanizing two thirds of the community's animals to saving two thirds of the community's animals. And they're just getting started.
Watch the ASPCA Partnership in action in Charleston, SC.:
|Charleston Animal Society||Pet Helpers|
|2011 Total Intake**||10,486||1,476|
|2011 Targeted Spay/Neuter||8,631||3,520|
*human population 2010
**Total intake for each individual partner includes animals transferred in from other partners
***Humane Net, the third Charleston partner, does not report their data to us.
What They've Accomplished Together
- Adoptions increased 60% in four years, from 2,939 in 2007 to 4,706 in 2011.
- In 2007, the live release rate (LRR) was 37.3% The Charleston partners have, so far, met their LRR goals every year: 45% in 2009; 55% in 2010; and 65% in 2011 and will strive to reach 75% in this, its final, year of the project.
- Spay/neuter surgeries increased 260% in four years, from 3,358 in 2007 to 12,151 in 2011.
Challenges They Faced
Examining their combined data pre-partnership, the Charleston partners realized they had minimal foster care, targeted spay/neuter, TNR or comprehensive adoption programs. Programs existed, but operated at a minimal level. Resources were lacking and the 2007 community numbers told a grim story.
- 37.3% average LRR
- 45% LRR for dogs
- 17% LRR for cats
Getting Set for Success
Using their 2007 baseline data and the ASPCA Logic Model process, the Charleston partners set LRR goals for each year and mapped a five-year strategic plan to help meet those goals:
- Comprehensive adoption initiatives and enhanced foster opportunities to increase LRR.
- Targeted spay/neuter programs to reduce intake.
- Joint marketing programs to keep the community engaged.
- A comprehensive Free-Roaming Cats Initiative to reduce the growing number of feral cats entering shelters.
- "Safety net" initiative to support low-income pet owners and reduce relinquishment of pets for financial reasons.
- Increasing return to owners through the addition of a lost-and-found coordinator.
- Charleston developed one of the most thriving free-roaming cat programs in the nation, which involves both Return-to-Colony and Return-to-Field initiatives--resulting in a jump in live release rates for adult cats from 17% in 2007 to 66% in 2011, and in increase in spay/neuter from less than 1,800 cats in 2007 to more than 6,300 felines in 2011. Read more about this program here.
- Community adoption events and marketing campaigns to increase adoptions. Adoptions have increased 60% since 2007.
- North Charleston Animal Control conducts spay/neuter campaigns in targeted neighborhoods, providing pet owners with on-the-spot transport for intact dogs and cats to CAS' spay/neuter clinic. More than 200 pets each year have been sterilized through this program.
Why It Worked
The Charleston partners attribute three key factors to their success:
- Pursuing a community-driven vision
- Using data to develop and measure strategies for success
- Being open to new ideas to save lives
"This partnership has brought our groups together to achieve more than we ever thought possible," says Cary Stout, President of Humane Net and supervisor of animal control for the North Charleston police department.
After graduation at the end of 2012, the Charleston partners will continue to provide data to the ASPCA for the next five years as well as pass on lessons learned to communities new to the ASPCA Partnership. They have already had several groups interested in their Free Roaming Cats Initiative, which they are eager to share with others. The next step will be the sustainability of the ongoing programs to ensure continued results.
"We're a little nervous about stepping out on our own again, but we know the ASPCA will be there if we need them," says Elmore. "Overall, I think we're in good shape."