Last year we told you about the good folks at Petaluma Animal Services. Driven by the philosophy of "Save Them All? Yes!" and realizing the community would never get to that state if it had to rely on taxpayer funds, they took over the operation of the city's animal care and control services. "As an open admission shelter, we have to take any animal regardless of breed, age, or condition," explains shelter Training Director Valerie Fausone. Within the year, they'd achieved a 98 percent live release rate, as dogs and cats went back to their original families or found new loving homes.
Since then, they've also contracted to provide animal control services for Cloverdale and Calistoga, and partnered with Sonoma Humane Society to deliver services in Healdsburg. All while making the Petaluma shelter a very safe place for animals: from August 2013 to August 2014, they maintained a live release rate of 97.43 percent. So effective have their programs proved that it's not uncommon, in recent months, for all the dog cages to be empty—because all the dogs have found homes. Now, they're working on the same goal for the cats!
PAS receives enthusiastic community support, from local businesses hosting adoption events to platoons of volunteers and fosterhomes—not to mention the shoppers and donors who make the Farmer's Wife Barntique a great fundraiser. Thanks to this support, they can go the extra mile for the community's animals, whether it's posting found strays to social media or offering a safe haven for dogs like Riley, a strong-minded fellow who was returned by two sets of adopters before landing in what's clearly his happy-ever-after family. Or the German shepherd currently known as Travis, abandoned in a taxi and in dire need of dental work, now enjoying country life with three German shepherd sisters thanks to a collaboration with Bay Area German Shepherd Rescue.
"It's just work and that's all," says Fausone of PAS's ability to confound conventional wisdom and achieve no-kill at an open-admission shelter. "Our average length of stay for dogs is nine days. Our behavior cases take time, but on a general timeline, 90% of our dogs leave quickly.
"Which is great," she adds,"because shelters are no place for animals to linger! As nice as we are, we know they need up and out, and our job is to make that happen. Period!"