City of Fort Wayne – In an effort to save as many lives as possible, Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control is implementing a new initiative, called the Pet Assistance and Rehoming program, aimed at preventing pets from having to enter the shelter by keeping them at home with their owners whenever possible.
More than 10,000 animals come through the shelter’s door each year. It is our goal to provide the best outcome for each and every one of those lives. As an open admissions shelter that does not turn an animal away for any reason, ensuring a positive outcome for each one is one of the biggest challenges.
Implementing the Pet Assistance and Rehoming program means the shelter no longer accepts walk-in owner surrenders. Instead, pet owners first work one-on-one with a staff member to address the underlying issues that are preventing them from keeping their pet, or learn how to rehome their pet without bringing it to the shelter. If pet owners ultimately decide they must surrender their animal to the shelter, they can do so by appointment only.
"One of our main priorities is helping people hold on to their beloved pets, and this program allows us to focus on providing resources to help them do that," Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control Director Amy-Jo Sites said. "Competition is tough when our kennels are full and we need to make decisions on outcomes for these animals. By implementing this new life-saving program pet owners are giving us more time to find a positive outcome for their pet by keeping it in their homes or even rehoming it themselves."
Life-saving efforts like this have been very successful in communities similar to Fort Wayne. A municipal shelter in Charlotte, North Carolina reported more than 800 fewer animals were surrendered to the shelter in the first year staff began spending more one-on-one time with pet owners. The shelter was concerned that a shift toward scheduling surrenders could lead to more animals being dumped or brought in as strays instead of owned animals. In fact, the shelter saw fewer stray animals come through its doors and that number continues to decrease.
Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control has been awarded a $5,000 matching grant from the Best Friends organization to help support this program through the Pet Retention Fund. With the community’s support we hope to raise an additional $5,000 by September 15 to help families in our community.