What is Community-Centered Animal Services?

 Old Model v New Model


Reimagine Sheltering    

Animal Services is involved in the global movement to transform the industry to community-centered human and animal wellbeing services with the goal of reducing unnecessary institutionalization of animals by refocusing efforts, resources, and support through community-based solution. We understand why there is confusion about this change. For decades, we have told people to bring unwanted and found pets to shelters so we could take care of them. Now we are saying that there might be better options. We have known that shelters are scary and stressful places where animals are more susceptible to illness and behavioral deterioration. However, we did not know we could count on our community members as partners in the work until we asked. 

At the onset of the global health crisis, Rochester Animal Services, like many other shelters, had our pleas for help answered by animal lovers who fostered pets, adopted, and helped lost animals get back to their homes. This support gave animal care organizations the opportunity to collaborate with our communities in new ways and has allowed us to create a better model of animal services, with four core program elements as the pillars to support people and pets staying together and out of the shelter (see the table below for more in-depth description):

  • Lost Pet Reunification (getting lost pets back home)
  • Supported Self-Rehoming (direct placement from one home to another)
  • Foster-Centric Housing & Intake to Placement (foster homes are the preferred living environment for most of the animals in our care; ensuring the best outcome with the shortest stay possible at the shelter)
  • Pet Support Services & Keeping Families Together (providing access to pet supplies and resources to support people and pets staying together; supporting the pet and family through crisis) 

Our Commitment to the Community

Pets for Life  

Pets for Life addresses the critical lack of accessible and affordable animal welfare services, resources, and information for people and pets in underserved communities. In the  Rochester Pets for Life program focus area, more than 50% of people live below the poverty line with little or no access to pet care services.

Spay-Neuter Voucher Program

For pet owners outside of the Pets for Life focus area, we offer vouchers for spay and neuter surgeries redeemable at our partner clinic. This program is funding through grants and donations and so availability is contingent upon funding.

Community Pet Support

Rochester's Animal Services operates a pet food pantry with weekly distribution events on Fridays 11:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. at our annex location at the R Sports Complex with access from 448 Smith Street. We also offer vaccination and pet identification clinics throughout the year.  Contact AnimalServices@cityofrochester.gov for more information about upcoming activities.

Building Community Support

We envision a new world of animal services, where most pets are housed in homes and communities, not in the shelter. In this reimagined system, the role of animal services is to keep pets with their families. We want to get pets home quickly and help families who are struggling to meet their pets’ needs.

          Lost Pet Reunification         

The organization operates a comprehensive lost pet reunification service to successfully get most roaming pets home without them having to enter the shelter system.                  

Pets physically entering the shelter have outcome pathways identified before or at the time of intake, so in-shelter length of stay is drastically reduced.
Pet Support Services    
Pet owners can access pet support services, including housing, medical and behavioral support, as well as food and supplies, to help keep the human-animal family together.
Pet owners who can no longer keep their pets are given the tools to safely and quickly rehome their own pets with ongoing support from shelter staff or volunteers.
Field Services & Public Safety    
Animal control and field services protect public health and safety, enforce animal ordinances, and aim to address the root causes of animal problems. They provide support, information, access to care and      resources to the community.     
Role of the Shelter       
The core functions of the physical shelter are to provide emergency medical care and short term housing for pets with urgent needs and to ensure public safety and public health priorities are met.            
Community Partnerships 

Human social services agencies, veterinary practices, rescue groups and other community partners work closely with the animal services organization, treating people and animals as a family unit.
The majority of pets who enter the shelter system are placed in foster homes within hours or days of arrival and foster pets are adopted directly from their foster homes.
Volunteer Integration 

Volunteers are engaged in every area of operations and play a key role in implementation and creation of HASS.
Case Management 

 Animal services personnel serve as trained case managers, helping people keep their pets; providing resources and support to struggling pet owners; and assisting owners who need to rehome their pets, and helping people find missing or lost pets.

Remote Customer Service

Customers will be able to reach the organization quickly and easily using remote technologies like text, phone and web chats.


Media Release - City Animal Services Making Changes as Part of National Coalition

Media Release - Rochester Animal Services Distributes Microchip Scanners to Reunite Lost Pets With Owners

Media Release - Keeping Lost Dogs In Neighborhoods Best Way to Get Them Home

Media Release - City Announces Home to Home to Give Pets a Smoother Transition Into a New Home


Pets and Animals