Meet your Top Dogs in Shelter/Rescue

TOP DOG Oregon Humane Society

Winning last year’s Top Dog top prize as well, it’s been a successful year for the folks at Oregon Humane Society, who have boosted adoption rates and continued raising pet-adoption awareness around the world.

 To support its goal of increased cat adoption, in 2010 OHS introduced an online kitty “playroom” that allows website visitors to interact with cats. “I know that people from around the world have been playing with our cats,” says OHS spokesperson Barbara Baugnon.

Not just fun, the interactive toy has increased by 400% international traffic to the website.  More importantly, according to recent statistics, OHS kitten adoptions have increased 15% over last year. While international adoption rates are unknown, Baugnon hopes that given the website’s global popularity , national and international shelters are seeing a boost in their feline adoption rates as well.

But, Baugnon points out, “You can’t adopt your way out of cat over-population.” So, to further reduce the number of homeless animals, OHS partnered with the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland (ASAP) to launch Spay & Save, a program helping eligible residents get their felines fixed for $10.

OHS is the organization behind Doggie Dash, the 2011 Top Dog in the Pet Event category.  Baugnon proudly reports that 3,999 pet lovers registered this year, continuing the yearly 20% growth in paid participation.

For pet lovers who want to celebrate local four-legged heroes, OHS will host is annual Diamond Collar Hero event Feb. 17 at the Governor Hotel.

2nd Family Dogs New Life

Another Top Dog favorite, the rock stars Family Dogs New Life had another year of quietly doing what they do best:  finding forever homes for dogs that may be out of options. Tasha Williams, director of FDNL, attributes the shelter’s growing adoption rate and community support to several factors.

“I believe that adopters like to support an organization that does not euthanize,” says Williams.  “Our group housing also appeals to adopters.  It’s nice to know that our dogs are able to have fun, socialize and enjoy themselves while waiting for their forever families.”  This refers to FDNL’s unique practice of keeping adoptable dogs together in large play areas — placing 35-50 dogs that would be in shelter in play packs of 8-20 dogs.

The fun the dogs have tends to rub off on visitors. “Oftentimes we hear adopters say ‘your dogs seem so happy.’” says Williams.  “I believe that local pet owners are able to see how much we love our dogs and care about what we do.”

3rd: Greenhill

It’s been a good year for Eugene’s Greenhill Humane Society, an independent shelter not affiliated with any national organization.  Cary Lieberman, director of the 67-year-old-shelter, likes to get to the details.  “We found 1,843 homes for animals including dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, and hamsters,” he says about this year.

Also focused on reducing cat over-population, Greenhill’s trap/neuter/return program fixed over 1,350 free-roaming cats in 2010.

Lieberman attributes Greenhill’s successful year to its great staff and especially its invaluable volunteers.

 “We had over 700 individual volunteers donate nearly 24,000 hours — the equivalent of an extra 12 full-time staff members,” says Lieberman. “We had an additional 100 foster families who cared for and nurtured nearly 600 animals.”

These same folks are what makes it possible for Greenhill to host popular events like its annual Bark in the Park run/walk held in May at Alton Baker Park. Circle the date: this year the fun happens May 15th.