2018 Statistics

Jan 21, 2019

2018 Statistics

Our 2018 Infographic is here! Please refer below for 2018 numbers. Some of these statistics are highlighted and elaborated upon below.

Download the 2018 Infographic Here!
2,903 animals sheltered, at least 68% from Vanderburgh County
VHS is an open-admission shelter, which means we do not turn away any owner-surrendered animals. People do not have to live in Vanderburgh County/Evansville to surrender an animal. In fact, note the percentages of our intakes who came from Gibson, Warrick, Posey, and Henderson counties as well. We are one of the largest animal welfare agencies in the entire Tri-State. We pride ourselves on being open-admission and on the standard of care we provide. We accept owner-surrendered animals, stray animals as space allows, and we also transfer in animals (mainly dogs) from other area shelters who are full as often as we can. We accept any type of domestic animal (with the exception of horses & cows due to lack of housing.) Of the 130 animals we sheltered in 2018 besides dogs, cats, and rabbits, among them were guinea pigs, birds, potbellied pigs, rodents, a duck, and even hermit crabs.

 2,111 Adopted
Our adopters come from all over the Tri-State and even across the country. People do not have to live in Vanderburgh County to give our animals a home. 

155 of these adoptions were cats who found homes through our adoption partnership with River Kitty Cat Café! River Kitty opened in July 2017 and houses anywhere from 8-12 of our adoptable cats at any given time. Their total number of adoptions from then to now totals more than 215. We are their exclusive “Purr-fect Adoption Partner.”

 Also among these adoptions were 12 rabbits adopted through our adoption partnership with Pet Supplies Plus on South Green River Road. We are grateful that instead of selling rabbits for profit who were intentionally bred for retail sale, their business chooses to partner with us to adopt out homeless rabbits.

 282 Euthanized + 21 Died
This is always a hard number for people to read. But we are open about our practices and why euthanasia still happens. There are still animals who arrive at shelters with severe, life-threatening diseases. There are also incoming animals with behavior or aggression problems that would be considered unsafe in almost any home. It is likely that some of these animals could be rehabilitated with an unlimited amount of funding, personnel, and time, but those resources are not unlimited in real life. We are not a “no-kill” shelter and we do not claim to be. “No-kill” is a misleading and often overused marketing term in the animal welfare industry. For more information on that, check out our blog post entitled, “The No-Kill Myth:” https://www.vhslifesaver.org/news/the-no-kill-myth

In 2018 at the VHS:

 - 21 animals died of natural causes in our care, either from unforeseen medical issues or of old age. Many of these were young kittens with “failure to thrive” due to being born outdoors to feral mothers and having no veterinary care before coming to us.

 - 282 animals were euthanized: 163 for aggression, lack of socialization, or behavior problems; and 119 for severe health issues compromising quality of life.

For the first time in our history, we did not have to euthanize ANY animals due to a lack of space. This is an astronomical achievement more than 60 years in the making. We are so proud of these statistics and while we know there is work to be done with medically or behaviorally special-needs animals, it’s fantastic that no healthy adoptable animal was euthanized simply because there was not room for them.

In 2008, the first full year after our Low-Cost Spay & Neuter Clinic opened, we had to euthanize 1,804 animals. This is a pretty heartbreaking number, and it was pretty typical of most other years prior to that. But look at how euthanasia rates have changed since then:

2009: 1,951
2010: 1,382
2011: 1,338
2012: 1,034
2013: 780
2014: 548
2015: 458
2016: 404
2017: 295
2018: 282

We have decreased euthanasia by 85% since our Spay & Neuter Clinic opened!!

This is a huge accomplishment and there are almost no other contributing factors. Although other animal welfare agencies have appeared recently, they do not affect our intake or euthanasia numbers. For example:

  •  Another Chance for Animals pulls exclusively from Evansville Animal Control. ACA does not affect our intake numbers in any way.
  • It Takes a Village Rescue deals almost exclusively with dogs only, many of whom come from out of county, whereas 2/3 of the animals we deal with are cats.
  • Many foster-based groups also warehouse dogs for years upon years. Their number of dogs served does not always separate the number of new intakes, but usually includes animals who have been in “foster homes” for years.
  • Other counties’ agencies have significantly smaller capacities. In fact, we have transferred animals in TO our facility every year from almost all other county facilities when they run out of space.

In a perfect world, no animal would have to be euthanized. But we don’t live in a perfect world. Every single animal that was euthanized was an individual. Every single one had a name and a story. And every single one received love and equal care during their time with us, however long that was. What’s important to remember is that we need to tackle these problems in our community at the source:

  • socialization, obedience, & behavior training for all puppies and their owners beginning at a young age, no matter where the puppies come from
  • widespread spay & neuter to prevent overpopulation and genetic health & behavior problems. The most at-risk population in our community is cats & kittens, and we must do better to ensure that owned cats and free-roaming cats are spayed or neutered.
  • enforcement of current Vanderburgh County ordinances that require a breeder’s license and a limit on the number of animals per household
  • responsible ownership, including providing regular vet care for the duration of the pet’s life

Many local shelters & rescues work collaboratively together toward these goals. They, along with the Evansville Police Department and a local veterinarian, make up EPAW: the Evansville Partnership for Animal Welfare. This is an organization formed in 2013 to collaboratively address issues in our community.

 227 Transferred Out
These are animals that we sent to other facilities who had more space. The majority of these are cats who went to less-crowded shelters in Chicago. We continue to struggle with overcrowding of cats every year at VHS.

 83 Returned to Owner + 2 Returned to Field
“Returned to Owner” (RTO) are animals who were lost and came to the VHS as strays, and their owners were able to reunite with them. Many of these were due to microchips and/or collars with up-to-date tags. Microchipping is offered on Saturdays at our Low-Cost Vaccine Clinic starting at 8:00 am for $25.

 “Returned to Field” (RTF) are animals, typically cats, who have been living successfully outdoors and are brought in as strays by kind local citizens. The cats, if not reclaimed, are returned to where they were found roaming after being spayed or neutered.

 235 “Kitten Nursery” Graduates and a 9% Reduction in Kitten Mortality in 1 Year
In the summer of 2017 after attending the HSUS Animal Care Expo, VHS staff converted a former dog isolation room into a Kitten Nursery. 2018 was the first full year using the Nursery and we have seen very positive results.  

This room has its own separate exterior entrance, and contains a stainless steel bank of 7 cages plus its own sink and cabinetry. It allows for the kittens in that room to be cared for completely separately from the rest of the shelter. Most Nursery residents are orphaned kittens and/or bottle babies. While we try to find foster homes for as many kittens as possible while they grow up, the Nursery is fantastic for very fragile kittens who need staff close by to give them fluids or medication if needed.

When there are kittens in the Nursery, staff & volunteers wear smocks, gloves, and boot covers while cleaning to prevent the spread of disease. All clean supplies are taken into the room before kittens are handled. Kittens are weighed daily and fed multiple times a day to ensure that they are gaining weight at an acceptable rate.

In 2018, neonate kittens (aged 8 weeks and under) accounted for 43% of our total cat intake. That’s huge, and it doesn’t even account for kittens aged 8 weeks – 6 months! This shows that there is still so much work to be done with regard to spay & neuter to reduce the flow of kittens into area shelters. It’s imperative that the public help us get every single cat in the community fixed, whether that’s an owned cat or a free-roaming community cat. Our Spay & Neuter Clinic will fix cats & kittens no matter where they’re from for a very reduced cost.

 We believe that the Kitten Nursery directly contributed to a 9% reduction in kitten mortality in 2018.

 25 Dogs Treated for Heartworms
Heartworm treatment costs an average of $250 for one adoptable shelter dog. It’s a significant expense that VHS incurs, and that cost is never passed on to adopters. The public can make a donation specifically to the Maxine Fund at www.vhslifesaver.org to help us treat heartworm-positive dogs in 2019.

 612 Animals Benefited from Foster Care
Our foster care program serves a variety of animals. These include:

  • unweaned puppies & kittens
  • sick or injured animals
  • undersocialized animals
  • animals who are severely stressed in the shelter environment (particularly large dogs)
  • pets enrolled in the Safe Pets program for domestic violence victims (see below) 

The public can find information about fostering a pet in need at www.vhslifesaver.org/foster.

 26 FIV+ Cats Adopted

For many years, being positive for FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) was a death sentence for shelter cats. Now we have much more knowledge about this disease, and we can put positive cats up for adoption. Many cats live long, happy, healthy lives with FIV, and can even live with cats who are negative!

7 Pets Housed through Safe Pets

The Safe Pets program is designed to provide a resource for pets belonging to people fleeing domestic violence situations. We work closely with human agencies such as Albion Fellows Bacon Center and the YWCA. The VHS will house victims’ pets free of charge for up to 30 days while they get back on their feet. 

863 participants in Cardio for Canines
The VHS’ newest program began in June 2016 and has exploded in popularity! Anyone can come walk or run with a shelter dog at Garvin Park on Saturday mornings from 8:00-9:30 am. The program is free to the public. All dog walkers must be 18+, but children and/or strollers are welcome to tag along! For additional details about CFC, visit them on Facebook or on Instagram @cardioforcanines!

6,640 surgeries performed through the Davidson Rausch Low-Cost Spay & Neuter Clinic
This is divided between approximately 2200 dogs, 4200 cats, and 150 rabbits. It includes shelter animals, publicly-owned pets, and animals on transports (see below.) 

Please note that we were in the process of hiring a new veterinarian from September-November 2018 so the surgery numbers are lower than a normal year. 

Of those surgeries, 977 of them were free-roaming community cats. These are cats who live primarily outdoors and do not have one specific “owner.”

51 pit bull-type dogs were fixed through our Pit Stop Program in 2018. This initiative focuses on spaying/neutering pit bull-type dogs in Vanderburgh County at no cost to their owners. By reducing the number of unaltered dogs like these running the streets, we can greatly improve their chances of survival in shelters, keep our communities safer, and eventually eliminate the negative stereotypes that these wonderful dogs face in the media.

We also provide surgeries and/or transports for 14 other animal welfare agencies in Vanderburgh, Warrick, Posey, and Perry counties in Indiana; and Henderson, Hopkins, Hancock, & Daviess counties in Kentucky. This includes Evansville Animal Care & Control, Another Chance for Animals, It Takes a Village, Feline Fix, PAAWS, Warrick County Animal Control, Warrick Humane Society, Posey Humane Society, and more.

Our Clinic has altered more than 73,000 local animals total in 12 years. Spay & neuter is the only permanent solution to overpopulation, and we are making a drastic impact throughout the Tri-State.

3,033 kids served through 43 Humane Education programs
Part of our mission is to provide humane education to the public so we can tackle our community’s animal-related issues at the source. We provide programs for people of all ages and abilities through our Humane Education Department. Program topics include responsible pet ownership, dog bite prevention, and many others. Those would wish to inquire about setting up a program or tour for a school/preschool, Scout troop, church group, or business, should call Cyndi at (812) 426-5263 extension 206.

More than 6,000 lbs. of pet food served to ~400 families through Emergency Pet Food Assistance
Our pet food bank is there for low-income pet owners who are temporarily having a hard time making ends meet. Rather than having to relinquish their pets to a shelter, programs like this help ensure that more pets can stay in their homes until their families get back on their feet. Food assistance operates once monthly on the 3rd Monday of each month (excluding major holidays) from 12:00-3:00 in the rear lobby. A driver’s license must be provided and preference is given to those whose pets are spayed or neutered.