Major New Improvements at Abilene Animal Shelter

Published: March 5, 2018

The Abilene Animal Shelter set an all-time adoption record in 2017 and euthanized 2/3 fewer animals than in 2008. 

The City of Abilene Animal Shelter Director is beginning implementation of the city’s very first ever low-cost spay/neuter program to place spay/neuter within the reach of all animal pet owners.  See their new website for information.

In working for continual improvements in the operations of the City of Abilene Animal Shelter, Rescue the Animals, SPCA has met with Mirenda Walden, Director of the Abilene Animal Shelter and the following policies have been put into effect as of Monday, March 5, 2018.

Animals in Sick Bay:

  • A Care Book is now in the Sick Bay with care pages for every sick or injured animal in the unit.  Staff will enter their observations in the book.
  • The Shelter contract vet will look at every identified animal in Sick Bay every weekday when he visits the Shelter and will note his observations and recommended treatment in the Care Book.
  • Staff will closely follow the vet’s instructions for meds and care for each animal within the capacity of the shelter.  In some cases, the animals may be moved to a vet clinic for treatment if needed.

Shelter Vet Position

     The Shelter Director and Rescue the Animals, SPCA will jointly recommend to the City Council to hire a veterinarian for the Abilene Animal Shelter.

Shelter Attendants

      The Shelter Director and Rescue the Animals, SPCA will jointly recommend to the city Council to hire one or more additional Shelter Attendants to assist people in the wings of the Animal Shelter.

Lost and Found Animal Information

The Shelter is changing its application for adoptions to make owner information on microchips available unless the adopter specifically does not want that information released. 
On any microchips that the owner has NOT marked to release this information, anyone finding the animal can contact the microchip company and tell them who has found the dog or cat.
The Shelter will continue its policy of checking any found animal for a microchip at no charge and releasing the chip information unless the owner has selected for that information not to be released. In this case, the finder can call the microchip company direct.

Urgent Adoption List

The Shelter will begin releasing an Urgent Adoption List each week of animals that are likely to be euthanized (time is running out).  These animals will be held as long as space allows, but this list will guide rescuers as to which animals should be saved first.

     Note:  Many animals are now held up to one full month for adoption depending on space as opposed to the policy in 2008 of killing every dog and cat after three days.

Other Important Recent Improvements at the Abilene Animal Shelter….

• Implemented UC Davis’ Core Vaccine Program - each dog of age (6 weeks and older) gets a 5-way vaccine (canine distemper, adenovirus type 2 (and hepatitis), parainfluenza and parvovirus) and a broad spectrum bordetalla vaccine and each cat of age gets a 3-way (Feline Rhinotracheitis, Calici, Panleukopenia, Chlamydia Psittaci Vaccine). The vaccines are veterinary grade from Merck and are the exact type and brand used at many practices in Abilene. 
• We adopted the use of a product known as Rescue (formerly Accel). This is one of the products recommended by UC Davis.✓&search%5Bslug%5D=disinfectant-product-table This is a broad spectrum product that is easy to use. It is much more expensive, almost $1,500 for 55 gallons than those used before but worth every penny.  Here is a decent description of what it kills Each morning the four shelter attendants clean every dog kennel and cat cage using Rescue.  We can have up to 200 animals in our care each day.  We also perform a modified secondary clean in the afternoon.  The modified cleaning is less stressful for the animals and allows staff to clean quickly and not inconvenience the public trying to adopt animals from the wings.
• Coordinated a competitive procurement process to achieve savings of over ½ the cost of the previous vaccine program.  This process allowed the Shelter to purchase vaccines for every dog and cat upon intake that was old enough to receive the vaccine.  Previously the Shelter's vaccine protocol was only administered to those animals that were available for adoption and animals less than one year of age.
• Analyzed the adoption process to make it faster by consolidating forms and reducing steps.
• Implemented accepting credit cards.
• Began adopting out of every wing. Prior to me joining Animal Services the only animals available to adopt were in the Adoption Wings, one for puppies and one for adults.  For example Adult Adoption Wing has 27 kennels but Owner Hold and Intake have 29 each.  In the past, if you were in either Intake or Owner Hold then those dogs wouldn't have been adopted even they were for legally allowed to be adopted and even if someone said they wanted that dog. As long as we have held the dog long enough to satisfy ordinance requirements, there are no barriers related to the animals location.
• Selected to be one out of around 15 shelters as a national testing site by the Texas Tech University Department of Animals Services to test animal behavior during meet & greets and its impact on adoptions. We also took part in a compassion fatigue study with Texas Tech.
• Switched euthanasia process from morning to evening allowing the shelter attendants to more time to clean since they were not waiting for animals to be moved before starting the wings.  This also allowed the animals at least one more additional day.
• Transitioned to digital dispatch with officers having the ability to input data in the field and the call takers able to enter the call in the system rather than the old pen & paper system.
• Reduced our abandoned monthly phone calls from as high as 850 to an average of about 75 a month with an average call volume of around 2,000+.  In February 2018, the shelter received 2,478 calls and only 76 abandoned their call due to wait time.  This equates to answering 124 a day or 15.5 an hour. This was one of the primary complaints I heard about Animal Services including the City Council that the phones were not answered at the Shelter.  I believe this is a dramatic improvement.    
• Now offering heartworm testing and feline FIV/FeLV combo testing.
• Implemented giving Capstar upon adoption.  Capstar is used to kill fleas on dogs and cats, which begins working within 30 minutes. Capstar will kill more than 90% of adult fleas within 4 hours on dogs and 6 hours on cats, and pets may temporarily scratch as a result of the fleas dying. It is not a long-term prevention but good customer service for the adopter and the pet. Also we treat with Adams spray on intake and will give a Capstar if the animal is heavily infested.
• Added offsite cat adoption opportunities such as Jackson Brothers.
• Applied for and received a competitive $33,000 Spay/Neuter Grant from PetSmart Charities.
• Gave names to the animals in the Adoption Wing to improve the adoption rate.  Folks tend to adopt an animal that already has a name. 
• Secured a $20,000 donation from Rescue the Animals for a new Adoption Trailer with surgical capacity.