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Animal Services: shelter evaluation and operational assessment


Rochester Animal Services (RAS) has been implementing progressive programs since it became a City function in July 2000. Through incremental changes, RAS has increased lifesaving and shelter enrichment while supporting public safety and pet retention. In summer 2020, RAS was selected to participate in the Human Animal Support Services pilot coalition. That participation became an integral part of leading the movement to transform the outdated animal sheltering system industry-wide.  

The changes associated with the industry transformation came fast but many involved expanding established programs and services already in place in Rochester. Independent of the changing industry, Animal Services transferred from the Rochester Police Department to the Department of Recreation and Human Services in July 2021. In recognition of the confusion associated with all of these changes in a short period of time, we decided to obtain an operational assessment to help gauge our progress and guide our path forward.

While drafting a Request for Proposals geared at identifying and securing an expert in animal services operations, Maddie’s Fund announced their pro bono consults to be offered to shelter organizations in conjunction with the Million Pet Challenge. The consultations were to be provided by Team Shelter USA, one of the few consulting firms with experience in shelter operations, and community cat programs, and with a veterinarian on the team. We signed up right away to be considered and were thrilled to be selected.

Dr. Sara Pizano, author of The Best Practice Playbook for Animal Shelters, was the Team Shelter USA designated consultant for our assessment. The final report includes acknowledgment of many positives and outlines recommendations for further improvement.

Consultation final report  

As part of the consultation project, Dr. Pizano will also provide a community presentation to help explain the data-driven practices discussed in her book and recommend for RAS. Stay tuned for the date for that meeting.