Throughout 2023, you’ve heard from me as OAS faced a crisis with an influx of big dogs surpassing our capacity. I’ve shared the challenges of housing dogs in half kennels and contemplating euthanasia for adoptable dogs due to space constraints.
Being transparent about our situation made me a bit nervous, knowing some might misunderstand our efforts or think we didn’t care enough. The love and compassion from this community, along with the support through adoptions, volunteering, fostering, and donations to Friends of Oakland Animal Services, have truly heartened me.
While the work is always challenging, this year presented an unprecedented spike in intake. From January to November 2023, we took in 3,312 dogs, averaging ten dogs daily. That’s 749 more dogs than in 2022, a 23% increase in just one year. Truly daunting.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of OAS volunteers, dog adoptions have grown from 355 in 2019 and 925 in 2022 to 1,325 this year. Since the introduction of the foster program for big dogs in June 2020, the numbers have surged, with 1,000 dogs or more expected in foster by year-end.
As of today, despite the surge in intake, our euthanasia rate for dogs, at 5.3%, is the lowest in OAS history. Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for the ongoing outpouring of support.
Earlier this year, we launched a page on our website and a Facebook page to highlight adoptable dogs at the highest risk for euthanasia, providing specific details for those interested. Dogs listed as “priority” face extreme stress or have adoption barriers, like chronic medical conditions. Dogs with deadlines would be euthanized if not adopted, fostered, or transferred by a set date. While heartbreaking, we’ve euthanized only five dogs with deadlines, a minor miracle given the massive intake spike.
In times of crisis, our big dog shelter population was around 100, exceeding the capacity of 73. As of now, we have 65 big dogs in the shelter, and although we remain full with an average of ten dogs coming in daily, we are not in crisis. Additionally, 101 dogs are in foster homes, providing a more relaxed environment than a stressful shelter. While these dogs still need permanent homes, this program is a game-changer.
Last week, we posted four dogs with deadlines — Ruefuss, Liv, Obi, and Zaki. They remain priority dogs (and urgently need to leave the shelter!), but for now, we’ve removed the deadline since we have a bit more space. This is what is possible when this community of staff, volunteers, fosters, FOAS supporters and advocates unite to help animals in need.
As animals continue to come in daily, our situation may change by the time you read this. We anticipate a spike in intake before year-end, typical around the holidays. Your help is still needed, but let’s take this moment to reflect on all that this community has achieved for dogs in need.