Strong partners make a difference in any endeavor. This is something Oakland Animal Services (OAS) can attest to in looking back at 2012 and its partnerships with more than two dozen rescue organizations both local and across the country, the efforts of which have resulted in increasingly positive news for the animals that pass through the shelter’s doors. Specifically, 2012 was a good year for OAS as we saw a 5 percent increase in animal transfers to partners—despite a tough economy and fewer adoptions—between this year and last.
Being the only open-admission shelter in Oakland means OAS takes in any animals brought through its doors—the strays, the unwanted, the abused—and that means big numbers of animals needing care in a given year. As animal numbers have gone up and city funding has been unable to keep pace, OAS staff and volunteers have turned to their partners for help . . . and found incredible support. Each group helps within its own possibilities: some take one or two animals; others take many more. But the bottom line is that in partnering, OAS is able to place many more animals into homes and make room for the many more that come through the doors each day.
Some of OAS’s partnerships are long standing; others are just getting started. Among newer relationships is that with Cat Town, a volunteer-created organization in only its first year that focuses on hard-to-adopt cats. The San Francisco SPCA* also stepped up to help the hundreds of underage kittens that are brought to OAS by taking them into their foster program. Safe Cat Foundation took in some of the cats testing positive for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and placed them in homes. Through the combined efforts of many groups and OAS volunteers and staff, the euthanasia rate for OAS cats went down a whopping 11 percent between 2011 and 2012.
One example of how the partnerships work is Simone, a fourteen-year-old tortoiseshell cat surrendered to OAS. After three weeks of remaining shutdown at the shelter, Simone was taken in by Cat Town. She left the shelter, made a brief stop at the vet’s office, and then headed to her foster home. Within days in the home, Simone’s foster mom reported: “She is already arching her back happily while I pet her, and she just started purring.” Simone’s story illustrates how important OAS’s partnerships are, especially for animals who struggle in the shelter environment.
OAS truly could not do it without the many hands and hearts of our partners, including All Creatures, Bay Area Turtle Rescue, Berkeley Humane Society, Brighthaven, Inc., Cat Town, ChickenMan, Companion Animal Foundation, DogSpot Rescue, Dusty Paws, East Bay Rabbit Rescue, the East Bay SPCA, Norcal German Shepherd Rescue, Harvest Home, Hopalong, the Idaho Humane Society, Maddie’s Fund, Paws Crossed, Pets Unlimited, Safe Cat Foundation, San Francisco SPCA, Santa Cruz Animal Services, Solano SPCA, Hound Haven, Tenth Life Foundation, and Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF)—each of which took in between five and five-hundred animals and helped us help even more animals in 2012.
We at OAS thank our many transfer partners for the endless support and effort they gave to make 2012 a brighter year for animals. We look forward to 2013, knowing that, with continued efforts of such strong partners, we can do even better by our animals than we did before . . . no matter what the year brings.
*Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals