Pet Topics

What's New at our City Shelter?

by Dr. Ku

As a veterinarian that has worked in the City of Sacramento for the past 12 years, I would like to thank the Sacramento City Animal Shelter staff for their overwhelming support and dedication to the Shelter and their jobs. This is a place I have come to know and respect more these past few months primarily due to the exposure gained through various area rescue groups, and our own contractual work there begun in June 2002.

The City Shelter down on Front Street, like many shelters, has the charge of providing shelter to stray animals as well as a means for holding lost pets until they can be reunited with their owners. Unfortunately, this results in overcrowded conditions, with limited resources for housing and medical attention, and the difficult task of controlling infectious diseases in an ever increasing population of stray or unwanted animals. In January alone, they received and processed over 1100 animals.

As a rule, state and city legislature dictates that "strays", "owner surrendered pets", and "drop-offs" are held for at least 5 days, in the hopes that their owners will come to claim (or reclaim) them. At the end of their holding period, they may find a home from an adopting party. During their tenure at the Shelter, these pets are cared for by the staff, and as resources permit, treated for illness to minimize disease transmission, pain and/or discomfort during their stay. Many are routinely vaccinated to minimize spread of infectious diseases. Sterilization is required before adopting all pets, unless medically not feasible.

When the 5 days are up, rescue groups work tirelessly to identify potentially adoptable pets, and together with the Shelter staff, try to place animals on a "website hold" to give that animal more time with its picture online, to find a home. Unfortunately, this holding time is limited by space, and ultimately, if a pet is not adopted, it must either go to a rescue foster home, or be humanely euthanized. Sadly the number of humanely euthanized animals on a weekly basis, despite the tireless and expensive efforts of several rescue groups, averages about 100 animals/week at the City Shelter alone. It is an astounding figure.

Shelter staff are animal lovers. This is a difficult job. Think about adopting from the shelter when you consider getting a new pet. Be responsible as a pet owner and spay or neuter your loved pet to prevent needless overpopulation, and the sad fate of many who are left unadopted. Realize that this is our City and a problem we share as a community, not just the problem of those who work for the City.

This month the shelter has hired a full time veterinarian, Dr. Laura Warren, to take care of the pets on site. She will also be responsible for developing disease control strategies and beginning a pet population control awareness program. We welcome her and wish her every success. Changes are happening every day on Front Street, and this is another of many big steps the Shelter is taking toward making Sacramento a better place for all living things.