Effects of a Geographically-Targeted Intervention and Creative Outreach to Reduce Shelter Intake in Portland, Oregon

by Emily Weiss; Gregory S. Miller; Margaret R. Slater

Jul 18, 2014
Animal shelters focus much of their efforts towards decreasing euthanasia and one of the best ways to reduce euthanasia risk may be to prevent cats and dogs from ever entering a shelter. This study, conducted in Portland, Oregon, relied on the capabilities of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to precisely and scientifically identify an intervention area (with high shelter intake) and to identify control areas to compare the project results with community-wide trends. The intervention itself was designed and implemented in a comprehensive way by seeking numerous paths to engage pet owners and reduce shelter intake of cats and Pit Bull type dogs. This research highlighted the ability of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to significantly improve a community's capacity to identify the most appropriate locations to focus resources and to closely track and measure interventions. Portland's targeted intervention to reduce shelter intake utilized many outreach tools with varying levels of impact. The overall intervention yielded a reduction in intake of owned cats that was greater in total numbers and percentage than four control areas. Furthermore, this work identified a percentage of cat spay/neuter out of the estimated number of owned, originally intact cats within the intervention and control areas. As percentages approached or surpassed 20%, those areas realized larger intake reductions than control areas with lower percentages.
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