King County increased the pet adoption rate by a record 20 percent in a single year

Regional Animal Services of King County — which has dramatically increased the pet-save rate in recent years — set a new record for adoptions last year.

  • Thursday, April 12, 2018 2:28pm
  • News

The following is a press release from King County.

Executive Dow Constantine thanked the staff and volunteers at King County’s animal services division on April 12 for increasing the pet adoption rate by a record 20 percent in a single year, building on the successful transformation of regional animal services.

The latest milestone is the result of several strategies, including partnering with cafes and pet stores to make it easier to adopt cats, starting a new dog playgroup to help staff and volunteers better assess a dog’s behavior, revamping the volunteer program, and significantly increasing the number of pets that are licensed.

“Thanks to outstanding work by our staff and volunteers, we are delivering on the promise I made to the people of King County to set a new standard of excellence in humane animal care,” said Executive Constantine. “Our latest achievement – a record-setting increase in the number of pets that are adopted – demonstrates our unyielding commitment to continuous improvement.”

King County, which had once considered disbanding its animal services division after years of underperformance, has made extraordinary progress in recent years. Delivering on Executive Constantine’s commitment to transform Regional Animal Service of King County, the agency now has a pet-save rate of 92 percent, up from 51 percent in 2003.

Creative partnerships + innovative strategies = more pet adoptions

Regional Animal Services of King County connected 2,992 animals to new families in 2017, up from 2,467 the previous year. The 20-percent increase required innovative work by the staff and volunteers, such as partnering with local cafes and pet stores to make it more convenient for people to adopt cats:

Covington: Petco

  • Kent: Reber Ranch and RASKC
  • Kirkland: The Whole Cat & Kaboodle and RASKC’s Eastside Pet Adoption Center located inside the Kirkland Petco
  • Redmond: Café Cocoa
  • Seattle: Meowtropolitan Cat Café in Wallingford and Neko Cat Café in Capitol Hill
  • Tukwila: Petco and PetSmart

After earning a $75,000 grant from Petco Foundation, the agency replaced the stainless steel cat kennels in adoption rooms with more spacious, welcoming cat condos. The staff is now working with professional trainers to create a new behavioral modification program for dogs.

Foster Coordinator Lori Mason worked with volunteers to organize a 3-day garage sale to create cat colony rooms, spaces where people can now interact with cats in a fun, low-stress environment.

The staff transformed the dog behavioral assessment room into a brighter, more welcoming multi-use space where the dog feels more at ease during their intake session, and where potential adopters can become acquainted with an adoptable dog in the warm setting of the dog meet-and-greet rooms.

The staff started a dog playgroup so dogs can burn off excess energy before meeting potential adopters. It also helps the staff and volunteers better assess a dog’s personal and behavior in order to provide helpful background information to the potential adopter.

The agency significantly increasing the number of pets that are licensed – selling a record 111,000 licenses in 2017 – which increased the number of pets that are quickly and safely returned home.

The staff redesigned the agency’s website to provide a resource hub for volunteers, with video trainings that engage both current and prospective volunteers. With the leadership of Volunteer Program Coordinator Sarah Luthens, more than 750 volunteers donated a total of 120,523 hours, helping animals adjust to the shelter, washing laundry, and taking dogs for a walk.

The agency has also embraced the Humane Society of the United States’ Adopters Welcome, an approach that removes well-meaning but unnecessary barriers between pets and families. For example, residents no longer need to fill out an adoption application before playing with a cat or dog, and can now adopt a pet as a gift for a friend or family member.

Executive Constantine last year signed a five-year agreement with 24 cities to provide animal services. The agreement will automatically be extended after five years, providing stability for animal care in King County for the next decade.

An example of creating the nation’s Best Run Government

The transformation of animal services is one example of the work Executive Constantine’s administration has done to create the nation’s Best Run Government, a promise to deliver the most value to the people of King County.

The success in animal services follows the same principles that King County has adopted in other transformations:

  • Empower employees who know the work best
  • Focus on prevention
  • Base decisions on science and data
  • Address the specific needs of each individual clientCreate strong community partnerships
  • Demonstrate an unending commitment to continuous improvement
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