It’s never a dull day at Oakland Animal Services (OAS), and 2014 was a year of transition and growth. With a new Advisory Committee, a new shelter Director, and a new mayor for the City of Oakland, 2015 promises to bring a tide of positive change.
For years, OAS has been run under the supervision of the Oakland Police Department (OPD), an arrangement that benefitted neither agency. Thankfully, this past spring the Oakland City Council voted unanimously to transition the animal shelter to the office of the City Administrator, effective January 1, 2015. This will allow OPD to focus on crime and OAS to focus on caring for homeless animals.The City Council also established an advisory committee comprised of local animal welfare experts and City of Oakland staff. This committee jumped on the opportunity to help develop best practice policies and protocols for OAS, especially in the areas where more consistency and training has been needed. These changes will prove to benefit the animals, and we anticipate that customer service will improve, too.
Rebecca Katz, former director of San Francisco Animal Care and Control, took over as Director of Oakland Animal Services in November. Director Katz will hire a shelter manager to provide day-to-day management, as well as outreach to rescue organizations. Stay tuned for more improvements under her leadership.
Although OAS is a great place to adopt an animal companion, people don’t always see it as their first option, largely due to the higher profiles of other shelters and rescue groups. Therefore, many OAS adoptions happen via transfer to rescue and shelter facilities where the animals are more likely to meet new families. Almost 40 percent of the animals that leave the Oakland shelter go to rescue organizations, so these transfers play a critical role in helping the shelter save lives. Over the past several months, staff and many committed volunteers have organized multiple flights of small dogs from OAS to rescue organizations in the Pacific Northwest, Idaho, and Canada. Regular flights like these over the past five years, funded by Friends of Oakland Animal Services and donors, have helped reduce crowding at OAS and created many, many happy endings.
Since Oakland Animal Services is Oakland’s municipal, open-admission animal shelter, no animal is turned away. That means OAS provides shelter and care for approximately 6,000 animals (mostly cats and dogs) each year. The City of Oakland provides funds for common, day-to-day expenses, but that budget does not cover surgery for injured animals, dental work, lab tests, beds, toys, or volunteer supplies. The shelter’s furry guests rely on funding from Friends of Oakland Animal Services (FOAS), a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization, for those necessities. You can find us and friend us on Facebook.
Our 2015 calendars are available for a $20 donation and will fill your new year with heartwarming stories and photos of shelter animals. You can get one (or more) of these beautiful calendars by donating online at oaklandanimalservices.org/donate. We look forward to a year of positive and progressive changes at Oakland’s city shelter and welcome your involvement in the historic transition. If you would like to be part of it all, sign up for an Open House at www.oaklandanimalservices.org/volunteer/how-to-volunteer/ and consider volunteering. Resolve to make a difference for animals in 2015 by getting involved at the new and improved OAS.
Originally published in the January edition of Bay Woof.