All over the country shelters struggle to provide homes and resources for millions of stray or unwanted dogs and cats. How can laws and data on the pet population in town make a difference in animal shelters?
According to the ASPCA approximately 6.5 millions cats and dogs enter a shelter in the United States every year. Many of the animals remain in the shelter while 710,000 are reunited with owners, 1.5 million are euthanized and 3.2 million are adopted.
Simply put, shelters are busy places that struggle to keep up with the animal population in the town or region they serve. While municipalities don’t always operate shelters themselves their laws and practices have a big impact on the ones serving their area.
Share valuable pet data
One of the biggest reasons municipalities have dog licensing laws is to keep track of the animals living in their community. This data can be crucial to local animal shelters because it gives them an idea of the pets living nearby, their density and breeds. If your community has many more large dogs shelters would want to know that so they can allocate supplies for larger animals.
The estimated 3,500 brick and mortar shelters in the United States (Humane Society) rely on knowing as much as they can about the pet population in their vicinity. Right now dog licensing programs only include 30 to 40 percent of dogs living in any given community which makes that information incomplete.
Open lines of communication
A big hindrance to animal shelter operation is lack of communication between town departments and the shelter. Whether the shelter is run by the municipality itself or an animal welfare organization it needs to be in close contact with government officials.
Antiquated technology and distance can make communication sparse and sharing information nearly impossible. When cities and towns put their data into a cloud-based management platform many other can easily and securely access it without a lot of back and forth.
Enforce leash and licensing laws
Keeping animals out of shelters is all about minimizing the time they are off-leash and being able to identify them if they get loose.
A leash law is an effective way to keep animals from roaming free, encouraging residents with the threat of a fine.
An equally effective but less enforced measure is dog licensing. Most residents are aware that they need to license their dog but are only at risk of a fee if their dog gets out and is picked up by Animal Control. For most this seems like an okay risk to take.
But dogs getting out and picked up is one of the problems licensing laws aim to correct. If all dogs in town are appropriately licensed it would only take minutes to find the dog’s owner and put in a call to reunite them. If most dogs are unlicensed, as is the case in most towns, then dogs are put in shelters and reunification becomes less and less likely.
Successful animal shelter operations rely on close cooperation with the governments of their neighboring communities. A successful partnership can reduce the number of animals left in shelters and euthanized as well as more effectively use their funding.