Second Chances for Pets in Need
You’re probably aware of the OHS Second Chance program, which brings dogs to OHS from neighboring shelters in need. But did you know that the lives of cats and small animals are also saved through Second Chance?
Years ago, cat overpopulation was such a problem that shelters couldn’t transfer felines from one shelter to another. In 2006, Portland-area shelters joined together and launched the Spay & Save program to help reduce the number of unwanted cats in our community.
This spay/neuter program has been a major success, and cat overpopulation has decreased to the point that Portland-area shelters are now able to absorb some felines from outlying shelters where they would otherwise be euthanized for lack of space and resources.
OHS always works with local shelters first, taking in pets from local partners like Multnomah County Animal Services on a weekly basis. After that, when OHS has space and resources available, Second Chance contacts partner shelters in Washington and California to see if they have animals in need of assistance.
Small Shelter, Big Needs
The city of Hayward, California is located on the East San Francisco Bay, south of Oakland, with a population of about 150,000 people. They have one city pound, charged with taking in every animal that comes through the door—over 3,000 cats and dogs per year, according to public records.
Dedicated staff and volunteers work as hard as they can to adopt out animals through the shelter, public events, and their local PetSmart. They care deeply about saving lives. But too many pets are coming in, especially kittens. They don’t always have enough foster families to handle the overflow of animals. This is where OHS Second Chance comes in to help. Since April 2013, the OHS Second Chance program has taken in a total of 625 dogs and cats from the Hayward Animal Shelter.
Photos from Hayward Animal Shelter
Photos by OHS Second Chance volunteer Michele Boris Lytle, taken on a recent visit to Hayward Animal Shelter.
On a recent Tuesday, an OHS transport van picked up a group of 18 cats, kittens and dogs from the Hayward shelter. The driver then stopped along the way, near Medford, to collect more dogs, a bunny and a Guinea pig from the Jackson County, Oregon shelter, arriving at OHS around 7 pm.
For these animals, the ride up to Portland means they each have a “Second Chance” to live out a long, happy life in a new home.
Pets Welcomed to Portland
Volunteers and staff are ready and waiting to welcome these pets to Portland. After unloading the transport vehicle, OHS staff members take the cats to a quiet exam room to process them. Each cat is removed from his or her crate, weighed, and given a health check. One person checks the medical records while another gives a vaccine and dewormer. A third person enters data into the OHS system and, if the cat isn’t fixed already, schedules spay or neuter surgery for the next day.
In less than an hour, all nine cats are getting cozy in their nice, clean kennels with fresh beds, litter boxes, food and water. Within a couple of days, all of the animals who arrived on this night will be spayed/neutered, receive medical care if necessary, and be placed up for adoption. Many will be in new, permanent homes by the weekend. And the folks at the Hayward shelter are thrilled to be able to save more lives through our Second Chance partnership.
“The Second Chance Program has been a saving grace for the Hayward Animal Shelter residents. Many of our dogs and cats that have not found forever homes in weeks at our facility have been adopted in just days once they’ve arrived in Oregon. The change in location, the socializing opportunities they have available to them, and the exposure is just great for the residents who are transferred to OHS. Hayward Animal Shelter staff and management know that once our residents are on their way to OHS via Second Chance, they are on their way to bright futures and loving homes.” – Cris Nakata, Hayward Animal Shelter Supervisor
Photos: Pets Arriving at OHS
—contributed by Second Chance volunteer Amanda Ferguson Baisley