Multnomah County Animal Services announced today it must temporarily shift to a crisis standard of care in the face of extreme overcrowding exacerbated by a surge in lost and stray pets over the holidays.
Beginning Jan. 4, Animal Services will redeploy all staff and volunteers to care for animals already at the shelter and to assist with moving to in person adoptions. The County will also tap community partners to help handle overflow. And, it will pause on accepting any stray animals until Jan. 11.
The weeklong hiatus in accepting any new strays won’t affect staff’s ability to remove potentially dangerous animals from the community. But it will keep the shelter from becoming overburdened.
The pause will also help Animal Services fully resume in-person adoptions on Jan. 11, which moved online during the COVID-19.
In addition, Multnomah County Animal Services is asking anyone who already volunteers with an animal welfare organization to consider volunteering at the shelter to help assist with those pets already there.
The number of animals at the shelter surged in December, in part due to a seasonal uptick from animals fleeing their homes due to New Year’s fireworks celebrations, high numbers of travelers and a lack of capacity at other animal service organizations and medical facilities to offer relief.
The issues come as a new director at Animal Services and a new manager for the shelter facility work to rebuild staffing and restart in-person adoptions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the County conducted adoptions virtually, relying on posting profiles of adoptable animals on our website, doing interviews and adoptions counseling by telephone, and then doing in-person pickups of new pets.
”Our goal is always to safely and effectively shelter and care for animals until we can find or return them to their homes,’’ said Director Erin Grahek. “But right now, at this moment, we need the community’s help so we can continue that work — without backtracking on our commitment to resume in-person adoptions and improve overall services.”
Most stray animals are reported after being found within a small radius around their actual home. Community members who find a stray in the next week are asked to take actions to find the animal’s owners first before seeking help at the County.
Here are tips on how to find a stray's owner
The shelter will open back up to the public for adoptions on Wednesday, January 11. Beginning that day, new business hours will be Monday- Friday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Source: Multnomah County