In 2009, four of Sacramento's humane agencies – Sacramento SPCA, City of Sacramento Animal Care Services, Sacramento County Animal Care and Regulation
and Happy Tails Sanctuary – joined forces to become an ASPCA Partnership community. Each felt the daily challenges of handling high intake with diminishing resources, and they saw the ASPCA Partnership as an opportunity to unite their efforts, leverage what resources they had and gain access to new ones.
Watch the ASPCA Partnership agencies in action in Sacramento.
|2011 Total Intake||34,877|
|2011 Targeted Spay/Neuter||20,431|
What They've Accomplished Together
- Overall combined intake dropped from 36,645 in 2008 to 34,887 in 2011. Feline intake fell by 10%, from 20,424 in 2008 to 18,354 in 2011.
- Adoptions increased from 8,592 in 2008 to a yearly average of 9,600 in 2009-2011.
- Spay/neuter surgeries rose from 11,876 sterilizations in 2008 to 20,431 in 2011.
- The number of TNR surgeries performed increased by 134%, from 1,763 in 2008 to 4,141 in 2011.
Challenges They Faced
Sacramento struggles with high unemployment, an unstable housing market and a local government that has significantly cut budgets over the past few years. Residents with financial troubles have been relinquishing more and more pets to local shelters, contributing to the community's high intake, which includes many cats and pit bull mixes. The area lacked high-volume spay/neuter services, and Trap-Neuter-Return programs were limited. In addition, shifts in leadership among the agencies during the early stages of the partnership created challenges.
Getting Set for Success
From the start, the Sacramento partners understood the enormous challenges they faced – including a community Live Release Rate of 37.3% – and were eager to find new ways to help animals.
Working with an ASPCA Community Liaison, they began building their relationships, identifying strengths and resources, and developing a community strategic plan, also known as the ASPCA's Logic Model. This plan required the partner agencies to meet regularly to develop shared strategies and examine their collective data for the very first time.
- The partners developed mobile spay/neuter clinics for cats in targeted neighborhoods. During the 18-week (4 days per week) program, these clinics provided 1,244 feline sterilizations in Sacramento. ASPCA funding allowed the partners to microchip and sterilize 600 felines during 20 free-roaming cat clinics held around the city.
- An enhanced foster/rescue placement program was developed, and an ASPCA-funded part-time coordinator was tasked with working with the Sacramento partners in the evaluation and placement of pets for foster care and/or transfer to local and regional rescue groups. Transfers increased from 1,294 in 2008 to 1,667 in 2011.
- The partners launched adoption awareness campaigns, held adoption events—including one that resulted in 224 adoptions in 24 hours—and offered fee-waived and fee-reduced promotions for cats, pit bulls and older pets.
Why It Worked
Because of the number of agencies involved, each with differing experiences, knowledge and points of view, the partners brought together a wealth of knowledge that can help them reach their shared goals.
The agencies are also examining their messaging to the public. Sacramento County has a large Spanish-speaking population, and new outreach efforts – the Hispanic Outreach Program (HOP) and a comprehensive bilingual marketing program – have been even more successful than expected.
"Now that we've started this program, we're finding that working with local media gets the word out about our services, and we've had a very enthusiastic response," says Rick Johnson, chief executive officer of the Sacramento SPCA.
The partners look forward to further collaboration. "The longer we are in the partnership, the more comfortable we are working together and sharing events," says Cathryn Reynolds, board member for Happy Tails Sanctuary. "Sacramento is benefiting tremendously from this partnership and there is still so much more we can do together."