The Long Beach Animal Care Services home at El Dorado Park. File photo
Live release numbers for the Long Beach Animal Care Services Bureau (ACS) have continued to increase, according to a mid-year report released by the Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine Thursday morning.
According to the report, the ACS has hit a record high for live release rates and record lows for both impounded and euthanized animals. Through July, the number of dogs live released by ACS hit 95 percent and cats hit 76 percent, an increase from 2014 when only 75 percent of dogs and 47 percent of cats were live released.
A live release is characterized as a variety of things, including adoption, being returned to its owner or being transferred to another shelter or rescue organization.
That ranks the city comparably with other large cities in California like Sacramento, which has an 85 percent live release rate—cats and dogs combined— to date, Orange County Animal Care (66.78 percent), Los Angeles (83.29 percent) and San Francisco, which had a live release rate of 89 percent for its 2015-2016 fiscal year, the last year figures were made available by the city’s animal care services.
Since 2005, the bureau has seen a precipitous drop in both the number of impounds and euthanasia. That year served as the high point over the past 12-plus years for both impounds (10,318) and euthanization (6,676).
"I'm proud of the hardworking team at Animal Care Services and the numerous volunteers, rescue groups, animal partner groups, and advocates who continue to save more animal lives,” said Mayor Robert Garcia in a statement. “We still have more work to do, but I'm thankful that we've decreased euthanasia every year for the past three years, and will continue to do so."
Long Beach ACS Manager Ted Stevens said that the drop can be attributed to a number of things, including an improving economy, a cultural shift regarding spay and neuter, various animal advocate groups providing free or subsidized access to the surgeries as well as a city ordinance passed in 2015 that requires dogs and cats in Long Beach be spayed or neutered. When adopting from the Long Beach shelter, the surgery is included in the cost of adoption.
Live release numbers for Long Beach Animal Care Services have trended up since 2013. Screenshot of ACS report released August 3.
Stevens said it’s hard to put a number on how many animals are adopted through the shelter since it partners with the Los Angeles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and other animal rescues which also adopt out animals.
“The ones we transfer to SPCALA, for the most part, those all get adopted,” Stevens said. “There’s a small percentage that maybe don’t, but by and large, the majority of them do.”
This year, 37 percent of dogs and 15 percent of cats have been transferred to the SPCALA and an additional 29 percent of dogs and 2 percent of cats have been returned to their owners. The disparity, Stevens said, is because it’s more normal for cats to disappear and return home safely leading to less owners tracking down their whereabouts.
“The return-to-owner rate for dogs is much higher than it is for cats,” Stevens said. “Part of that is because a lot of the times people don’t go looking for their cats because they think it just wandered and it might come home in a few days.”
Through the first six months of 2017 Long Beach shelters have seen 3,011 total impounds with 431 of those animals being euthanized.
The ACS has gained a new tool in trying to continue driving down those figures; the “Adoption Waggin”, a mobile pet adoption vehicle.
The bureau obtained the Waggin late last year and has deployed it to a growing number of community functions where it brings adoptable animals to the public instead of the public having to make the drive to El Dorado Park where the ACS adoption facility is located.
Stevens says it’s too early to tell how much of an impact it’s had on adoption rates since it’s only been about six months, but it has helped to get the word out about the shelter. The mobile unit will be present at Friday’s Long Beach Municipal Band performance at El Dorado and will also be at the Kitty Hall event August 11 inside City Hall as well as at Granada Beach during the August 15 Movies at the Beach screening of Disney’s Moana.
“Even if someone doesn’t adopt necessarily at the event that we go to, they are exposed to us. It just kind of makes them more aware that we exist, and we’re here,” Stevens said. “So even if they don’t adopt that day, a week or two from now, a month from now, or even six months from now they might think, ‘Hey, we’re going to adopt, we saw that truck in the park, let’s go to that Long Beach shelter.’”
The shelter will also be part of a larger "Clear the Shelters" event August 19 where discounted rates on adoptions will be given in an effort to clear space for other animals to enter the ACS system.
Long Beach Animal Care Services is located at 7700 East Spring Street.