Located 45 miles southwest of Birmingham, AL, Shelby County joined the ASPCA Partnership in July 2009. Shelby County Department of Environmental Services contracts their animal housing and care program through the Shelby Humane Society – they are two partners with one small animal shelter in a geographically challenged county. Through transport, spay/neuter and adoption programs, the partners dramatically increased their live release rate.
Watch the ASPCA Partnership in action in Shelby County:
Shelby County, AL: Human Population: 195,085*
Shelby Humane Society
Shelby County Department of Environmental Services
|Shelby County, AL|
|2011 Total Intake||5,019|
|2011 Targeted Spay/Neuter||1,920|
What They've Accomplished Together
- The Live Release Rate (LRR) increased almost 50%, from 35.4% in 2008 to 52.4% in 2011.
- Intake has decreased by 31%, from 7,294 pets in 2008 to 5,019 in 2011.
- Transfers out have increased from 16% (2008) to 24% (2011) of the annual intake.
Challenges They Faced
The main obstacle facing the partners was a mountain – literally. Two-thirds of Shelby County's population lives in the western third of the county, which is closest to Birmingham. Separated by the Appalachian Mountains, Shelby Humane Society is located in the eastern region of the county, where the population is more rural.
Animal control picks up many pets in the rural two-thirds of Shelby County and brings them to the humane society, but potential adopters live on the other side of the mountain.
In addition, Shelby lacks a high-volume spay/neuter clinic, and the partners rely on a clinic in another county for 80% of their sterilizations.
Getting Set for Success
Using their baseline data and the ASPCA Logic Model process, the Shelby County partners planned a foundation of programs that would have an immediate impact on LRR. These three strategies included a transport program, spay/neuter program and adoption program.
The humane society also sought to reach county residents who might not know about their shelter in the southern part of the county or who might think their shelter was not worth the trip.
- To increase the humane society's exposure to local residents, they drove over the mountain to establish a few adoption outreach events. For example, an arrangement made with a local mall allowed them to bring pets into an empty retail space over the holiday season. For nearly eight weeks, they adopted pets and directed people to the humane society, resulting in increased adoptions and more than $14,000 in donations.
- Shelby Humane Society increased awareness and raised support through their very first direct mail campaign. The ASPCA's fundraising department helped them produce a letter that generated almost $8,000 in donations.
- Since expanding their transfer program with ASPCA funding in 2009, Shelby County has transferred 4,255 pets to other agencies through July 2012, an incredible achievement for any community. Their goal for end of year 2012 was to transfer 1,500 animals – more than 50% of their anticipated 2012 canine intake at the humane society.
- During June's Adopt A Shelter Cat Month promotion in 2011, the Shelby Humane Society waived the adoption fee entirely for cats one year and older and reduced it to $25 for kittens. They reported a 52% increase in feline adoptions that month over June 2010. Marketing programs like these have generated a lot of media attention and attracted more potential adopters.
Why It Worked
Even though the Shelby partners had been working together through the animal care and housing contract, they say joining the ASPCA Partnership helped to strengthen their communications process and elevate their work in the community. Working together for shared goals gave them a united front that resonated well with residents once they found ways to raise awareness for their collective work.
The partners' willingness to try new things – such as a direct mail campaign and reduced and fee-waived adoptions suggested by the ASPCA – also gave them a boost.
After graduation, the Shelby County partners will continue to provide data to the ASPCA for the next five years as well as pass on lessons learned to communities new to the ASPCA Partnership.
While Shelby County plans to continue strengthening their core work through transfer, adoption and spay/neuter programs, they also are open to other programs that will build relationships in the community. Through ASPCA funding, an outreach coordinator will visit schools and local events to get the word out. The Shelby partners also bought a van to launch Training Wheels – a grassroots program that provides pet supplies to residents in high-risk areas and offers doghouses or dog runners to get pets off the chain.