FAQs: Change in Services for Stray Cats From Marion County

Beginning November 15, 2022, OHS Salem Campus will no longer be able to accept stray cats from Marion County. We regret this change in policy, but we have been unable to come to an agreement with Marion County to serve stray cats.

With this change, OHS will deepen our focus on helping pet owners who are seeking support to keep their cats or need to rehome their cats/kittens. We will also have greater capacity to assist our community partners whose shelters may face overcrowding.

If you become the owner of a stray cat or kitten and need support, please submit an intake questionnaire on our website.

We know you may have questions, and invite you to review the FAQs below.

Beginning November 15, 2022, OHS Salem Campus will no longer be able to accept stray cats from Marion County.

Providing services for stray animals is a municipal function. Without a legal agreement, or Memo of Understanding (MOU), OHS is not able to provide this service. So far, we have not been successful at establishing an agreement with Marion County.

Under Oregon law, cats are considered property. As such, state law requires an exhaustive process to find the owner of the “property.” Counties manage property ownership transfers, so an MOU transfers ownership from the county in which the cat was found to OHS. This enables us to be able to find new homes for stray cats and kittens more quickly.

While we have been taking in stray cats and kittens for some time, we have been doing it without formal legal authority that is held by the county. We need to address the root issue: ensuring that stray cats and kittens have protection under municipal codes in Marion County.

No. We are hoping to create a legal agreement with Marion County called a Memo of Understanding (MOU), which does not include any payment to OHS to provide services for stray cats and kittens.

There is no cost to Marion County taxpayers. We aren’t asking for new facilities to be built. Money is not nor ever has been part of the negotiation. 

Fortunately, OHS has an agreement with Polk County to provide services to stray cats. However, it is important to remember that not all roaming cats are strays.

Before taking action, please take the appropriate steps to find the cat’s owner. If you find a cat in Polk County and are unable to find the owner, please submit an intake questionnaire. Our Admissions team will be in contact with you to discuss next steps. Currently, the wait time to receive a callback from our Admissions team is several weeks.

Learn more about what to do if you find a roaming cat.

Not all roaming cats are strays. Often, there is an owner; in those instances, despite the finder’s best intention, bringing a roaming cat to a shelter is not the right thing to do.

The best thing to do is keep the cat or kitten where it is and try to locate the owner.

Learn more about what to do if you find a roaming cat.

If you find a cat or a kitten who is injured or sick, please take them to the nearest emergency vet clinic or call the county where the animal was found for further information and resources.

OHS Salem campus will continue to serve sick or injured strays based on our veterinarian’s assessment of the animal but will not be serving the broader population of strays until we have an MOU in place.

Please submit an intake questionnaire. Our Admissions team will be in contact with you to discuss next steps. Currently, the wait time to receive a callback from our Admissions team is several weeks.

Sadly, we know this happens. We see situations of people moving and leaving their animals behind. If you suspect a cat or kitten has been abandoned, please call OHS’ Humane Law Enforcement team at (503) 802-6707.

We will continue to offer spay/neuter services for our feral cat community.

OHS will honor your intake appointment as long as it was scheduled on or before November 14, 2022.

Citizens of Marion County are encouraged to contact the Marion County Commissioners Office at (503) 588-5212.