You’re thinking, “No way. Impossible!” But, you read that number right – and it’s true! From 2015 to 2017, the Front Street Shelter in Sacramento reduced the length of stay per stray dog from 16 days to about 10 days. This equates to an annual savings of $766,507! Now, they are able to take the savings and use it on other lifesaving programs, including giving away more microchips!
“How?” you might ask. The shelter’s team made significant changes to their programs and services. If that’s not enough to be excited about, they did this all while Sacramento’s resident population continued to rise without increasing the number of homeless animals in their shelter. And Front Street stands by these numbers. Read on to learn more about how they are transforming animal welfare in their community!
Encouraging Microchipping, Identification, and Registration
Front Street made the following changes to their services:
- All lost animals, claimed by their owner, receive a “free” chip
- Low-income families who attend a vaccine clinic receive free microchips and registration
- All other animals (even if they don’t live in Sacramento) receive a microchip for $5
- All animals receive free identification tags
All of these offerings certainly look like they’d only result in lost profits for the shelter. However, by lowering profit margins up front, they save in the long run by reducing the length of stay for stray dogs. The team at Front Street believes affordable services are key to quickly reuniting an animal with their owner. Michelson Found Animals also believes this to be true and finds that many pet owners put off microchipping because they think it’s too expensive.
Socioeconomics also plays a big factor in animal welfare. Pets belonging to homeless or low-income families are most likely to enter the shelter. By keeping these animals healthy, microchipped and registered, Front Street saves money in the long run.
And of course, charging less for services fosters a great deal of goodwill in the community. Front Street also frequently holds offsite events and offers free microchipping. This also helps encourage microchipping and builds good relations with the community.
Devoting a Whole Team to Reuniting Animals and Owners
The second secret to Front Street’s success is their Sacramento Missing Animal Response Team or SMART. This team’s sole objective is reuniting stray dogs with their families. SMART posts every stray dog on Nextdoor, a neighborhood-based social media platform. Each dog gets their own post in the neighborhood from which the animal was found. From May to August 2017, Front Street saw a 20 percent increase in the number of dogs reuniting with their owners.
Additionally, SMART now attends community events where they:
- Scan a chip for a dog owner
- Provide them with the Michelson Found Animals card with the chip written on it
- Show the pet owner how to use the (free) Michelson Found Animals Registry (regardless of what brand chip the animal may have)
The goal is to really get the community to understand the importance of maintaining accurate chip information and demystify the process. Afterall, a microchip is useless if the pet’s owner doesn’t update their contact information in the microchip registry.
If you work in animal welfare, you know that a large portion of costs come from simply caring for homeless pets before they find a new home. Food, vet care, and other spending really add up. Front Street achieved such remarkable savings by decreasing the average length of stay for stray dogs at their shelter.
Here are the numbers:
- Estimated cost of care per day: $31.80
- Average length of stay for stray dogs in 2015: 16.01 days
- Average length of stay for stray dogs as of August 2017: 10.77 days
- Average number of stray dogs taken in per year: 4,600
So average length of stay for stray dogs was reduced by a remarkable 5.24 days. This all equates to an overall annual savings of $766,507.
The Main Takeaway
Despite the growth of human population and dwelling units in the City of Sacramento, Front Street believes that they are not seeing an increase in dog intake because of their concerted efforts at providing chips that include a truly free registration. Then, by making sure microchips and ID costs are affordable and devoting manpower to reuniting pet families, they’ve seen massive savings in just two years. And these savings? They use them to help even more animals in the community!
Do you have any money-saving tips for other folks in animal welfare? Do you have any questions about how we work with shelters to help them achieve massive savings? Shoot us an email. We’d love to hear from you!