Area shelters share $1 million award

They're recognized for greatly cutting use of euthanasia

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A consortium of six metro-area animal shelters recently received a $1 million award for preserving the lives of stray animals. The award comes from a California-based foundation called Maddie's Fund.

The Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland, which includes the Humane Society for Southwest Washington and SW Washington Veterinary Medical Association, was able to find homes for enough animals so that no healthy, socialized dog or cat has been euthanized in Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington and Clark counties since 2010.

Maddie's Fund says this area is one of the top three safest in the country for strays. The Alliance includes independent agencies such as the Oregon Humane Society and also public county shelters.

Members reduced euthanasia rates by establishing better communications about which facility has open shelter space, and by working together on adoption events.

Multnomah County animal services director Mike Oswald says the award will be used to continue Alliance collaborations. He says the key to increasing live release rates even further is medical treatment for animals that would then be eligible for adoption.

"We've done surgeries here for genetic problems with some breeds. You have a young, healthy, 2-year-old Lab, and it needs surgery. All of a sudden, you've got a great dog. It simply takes that kind of intervention."

He says shelters can also use help training animals with behavior problems, and expanding the pool of animal foster homes.