Animal Shelter’s Annual Progress Report to the Community

Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS) assumed responsibility for the Alameda Animal Shelter on Jan. 1, 2012. In its first three years, FAAS has made great progress toward its goal of making the shelter a safe haven for homeless animals and a resource to the community. During this past year, a newly adopted strategic plan helped set specific goals. Here are some highlights of FAAS’ accomplishments this past year:

Maintained high adoption levels: A total of 495 animals were adopted during 2014, a 5 percent increase over last year. This year, FAAS marked the 1,000th adoption since it assumed responsibility for the shelter. Animals are also being adopted faster. The average length of stay has dropped more than 18 percent due to a strong marketing effort involving, web, social media and newspaper advertising. Per the strategic plan, FAAS doubled its mobile adoption events. A stepped-up effort to socialize and train shelter animals also made it easier to get them adopted.

Expanded rescue group network: A total of 223 animals were transferred to rescue groups in 2014. FAAS established closer working relationships with Muttville, which takes in hard-to-adopt senior dogs as well as with other rescue organizations and humane societies. Rescues are a major resource for FAAS because they help to alleviate overcrowding and make sure there’s always space for the new strays who arrive daily. We are always eager to have these groups visit FAAS and take animals that they can foster and find new homes for.

Saved lives: At 97 percent, the "live release rate" at FAAS — the percentage of animals returned to their owners, adopted or transferred to rescue groups — is the highest of any open intake shelter in the Bay Area that is required by law to accept any animal brought in. It’s also among the highest in the state and nation.

Animals at FAAS are sheltered for as long as it takes to find them new homes and are not euthanized due to limited space or for running out of time. The only animals euthanized are those with untreatable diseases or injuries or those with irreversible behavior problems. The key to success at FAAS has been aggressive adoption campaigns, an intensive medical and behavioral rehabilitation program and improved relationships with rescue groups.

Improved the health of shelter animals: FAAS worked closely with all three veterinary hospitals in Alameda — Providence Veterinary Hospital and Clinic, Park Centre Animal Hospital and Alameda Pet Hospital — to ensure the medical needs of shelter pets were met. FAAS has added a veterinary technician to staff to work with its veterinary hospital partners. The Angel Fund was able to help dozens of sick and injured stray pets because of the generosity of FAAS supporters.

Revamped volunteer program: FAAS completely reorganized its volunteer program in accordance with a three-year strategic plan. The new recruitment process includes application, interview and orientation, while also providing comprehensive training for volunteers wanting to help socialize animals. The number of volunteers increased to more than 170. They performed a total of 13,626 service hours, which included walking dogs, socializing with cats, helping with events, doing office work, fostering kittens and puppies, cleaning and sanitizing kennels and cages and improving the safety of the facility.

Maintained a Pet Food Pantry: FAAS has worked closely with the Alameda Food Bank to run the monthly Pet Food Pantry providing free pet food and cat litter to low-income Alamedans. Since it started operating in Spring 2013, the number of low-income Alameda families participating has grown to 160.

Improved facilities: The cat adoption room has been remodeled with larger kennels to allow cats more space and each cat received a Koranda bed for more comfort. FAAS also painted the outside of the building to make it more welcoming to the public.

Educational outreach program begun: In accordance with the strategic plan, FAAS designed a new Humane Education Program for children in K-2 grades in Alameda schools that launches this month.

Exceeded fundraising goals: By introducing a number of new fundraising efforts, FAAS not only raised its share of the funds needed to operate the shelter per our contract with the city of Alameda, but exceeded that goal by $30,000. The Wiggle Waggle Walk almost doubled in size from its first year and raised $15,000 from sponsorships and the 250 people who attended. After the Ball generated more than $90,000 in sponsorships, donations, auction sales and ticket sales.

The year 2014 focused on stabilizing the shelter and planning for the future. FAAS adopted a new three-year strategic business plan that guides growth and expansion to meet the needs of both people and pets in Alameda.

As FAAS moves into the future, it continues to have a strong partnership with the Alameda city officials and we appreciate their unwavering support. Additionally, FAAS has a great partnership with the Humane Society of Alameda who helped again in 2014 with funds to pay for food and other expenses for the shelter animals.

FAAS is also extremely grateful to have the support of the residents of Alameda and was honored to be voted "Best Charity for 2014" by Alameda Magazine. None of FAAS’ accomplishments would have been possible without the financial and volunteer support enjoyed in 2014. Thank you for making sure that Alameda’s abandoned pets get the very best care while at the shelter, and have the very best chance for a second chance in a new forever home.

FAAS is honored to be the stewards of the community’s commitment to its animals, and will continue to do its best to live up to the trust you have placed in us.

Mim Carlson is the executive director of FAAS. She can be reached at mimcarlson.faas@gmail.com.