Memphis Animal Services Save Rate

Background: Five years ago, the save rate at Memphis Animals Services (MAS) was just 27%.  When Mayor Strickland took office January 2016, the shelter was battling years of mismanagement and poor public perception. The newly-named director, Alexis Pugh, began a complete overhaul of the policies, cultures and programs that governed MAS.
Service Question: How can we achieve the national standard of a 90% save rate? How can we eliminate euthanasia for time and space reasons?
Implementation: MAS employed several strategies to improve their reputation, better communicate with the community, and increase the likelihood of adoption. MAS partnered with Target Zero and Best Friends, two national nonprofits that assist shelters with best practices, including data management and tracking.
National data showed that many surrenders are preventable when owners are given sufficient resources. MAS implemented a comprehensive Owner Surrender Prevention Program that requires people to schedule an appointment before surrendering a pet so that shelter staff can connect them with helpful resources.
Heartworm positive dogs are the least likely to be adopted. Recently, MAS was awarded a grant that will allow them to treat heartworm positives at no cost to the adoptees.
MAS also established a Pet Placement Partners Program to partner with reputable animal rescues locally and in other states. An aspect of this program includes in Wings of Rescue where more than hundreds of animals have been flown to states with low shelter intake.
Data showed that breed identification is unreliable and often leads to breed discrimination so MAS ended breed labelling as well as dog naming and personality profiles (where possible).
To this end, social media and public outreach has been crucial with MAS creating a public Facebook page for the first time and partnering with both Memphis Pets Alive and Friends of the Memphis Animal Shelters for high quality pictures.
Results: For the first time ever, MAS achieved the national goal of a 90% save rate in December 2017 and continues to work to sustain this achievement, hitting an all-time high of 93% in January 2019, despite a 20% increase in intake compared to January 2018. Moreover, MAS reduced euthanasia for time/space from 465 dogs in 2017 to 210 in 2018, a 55% decrease. We can continue to work towards the ultimate goal of zero euthanasia for time/space reasons. You can monitor our continual progress on the MAS goal tile page here.
Client Details: Memphis Animal Services, TargetZero, and Best Friends
Further Reading: MAS’s efforts to increase save rates were covered in detail in Frontiers in Veterinary Science. The article is available here.