Chesterton Tribune



Animal shelter report shows adoption increase

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Improvements at the Porter County Animal Shelter have resulted in record levels of adoptions, according to Shelter Director Toni Bianchi.

Bianchi presented her annual report at the recent Porter County Commissioners and Porter County Council meetings. The report for 2018 represents the first opportunity to compare a full calendar year at the new shelter with a full calendar at the old shelter in 2016, before the shelter was operating with Animal Control and began taking animals from Portage.

502 animals were adopted in 2018 compared to 324 in 2016. Bianchi attributed the increase to several factors. For one, she said the new facility is designed to be less stressful on animals and has room for staff to spend more time training and socializing them. Another reason is the shelter is more adopter friendly.

Its not just adoption numbers that are improving. Bianchi reports more animals are being returned to owners after being lost, the Shelter is taking in fewer animals as strays because it has room to accept more owner surrenders, and the average length of stay for animals was down from 67 days in 2016 to 47 last year.

Along with those improvements, Bianchi reports the Shelter maintained its no-kill status and came in 9.4 percent under budget last year.

Bianchi said the Animal Control Officers have helped conserve resources by expediting returns to owners and helping out at the Shelter when they’re not on calls. They have also become more adept at resolving calls over the phone.

Commissioner President Jeff Good, R-Center, said, “A lot of people think Animal Control Officers are just the people who go out and bring the animals to the shelter, but because of Toni’s leadership and some of the change in people out there in Animal Control, they’re working with these animals when they come in.”

“We’re not just putting them in a truck and taking them in,” Good said. “We’re taking them in and helping them learn all the things they need to know to be adopted out.”

Reducing the length of stay and returning lost animals to their owners before they come to the shelter saves resources, but Bianchi has also reduced costs by implementing a quarantine process for new animals, enforcing strict cleaning protocols, and limiting animals’ interaction with the public, which means fewer vet bills.

However, Bianchi said the biggest improvement is making the animals more adoptable. Bianchi attributed behavior modification by Shelter staff with saving at least five dogs this year that otherwise may have been too aggressive to adopt.

The annual report is available to the public on the Shelter’s website. In related business, the Board of Commissioners approved Bianchi to begin paying for PetPoint, a new case management software. The Shelter has been using a free version of PetPoint and plans to upgrade to a paid subscription for $2,500 a year out of the Shelter budget. The system will allow the Shelter staff to go almost paperless in their recordkeeping and to map the progress of individual animals. Good and Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South, said better data management is the final piece of making sure the Shelter keeps good records for its stakeholders.



Posted 3/4/2019




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