Most summers, the Memphis Animal Services (MAS) experiences an increase in intake, and this summer has been no different. This is true even after MAS launched its Safety Net Program in May, which includes two initiatives meant to curb the number of shelter intakes and keep pets at home.
One of those is the owner-surrender prevention program, which follows a similar model used nationwide by many progressive shelters. At MAS, the program requires owners who wish to surrender their pets to undergo a counseling session via phone with staff which provides the owner with possible alternatives to giving up their pet.
If owners still wish to surrender their pet, they must make an appointment during certain allotted time periods. By offering food and spay/neuter services, MAS helps owners who decide to keep their pet but might be facing circumstances that hinder providing for it.
- MAS launched its Safety Net Program in May.
Another piece of the Safety Net program is the NextDoor Proactive Reclaim program, one MAS officials say might be the only formal lost-and-found shelter program around.
The program uses volunteers who review lists of lost pets in order to post information about each pet in that neighborhood's NextDoor, along with instructions for potential owners to reclaim their pet from MAS.
Even with the Safety Net in place, MAS officials say they took in just under 800 animals in June, about 2 percent more than they did last June. Officials say it was a tough time, with as many as 25 to 35 new animals entering the shelter each day. Of that monthly total, a little more than 600 animals were stray or at-large; 92 were relinquished by their owners.
Despite the large intake numbers, MAS was able to maintain an 80 percent save rate in June for the eighth month in a row. This could be due in part to the uptick in adoptions, MAS officials say. The increase comes partly as a result of the shelter's partnership with Best Friends Animal Society, which allowed MAS to provide discounted pet adoptions during June and July. About 265 pets were adopted, a 182 percent increase from the 94 adoptions during those months last year.
MAS is aiming for a 90 percent save rate, says MAS administrator Alexis Pugh. But funding is an obstacle to that goal. Pugh says MAS is beginning to explore other ways to secure more funding in order to "provide service and care above the baseline."
MAS has applied for more than $1 million in grants for service improvements. Pugh says in order to reach the long-term goal of ending euthanasia at MAS, there must be constant support.
For the month of August, adoption fees will be reduced to $20, as part of another Best Friends Network Partner's adoption special.