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