Feb 01, 2020
Our 2019 Infographic is here! Please refer below for 2019 numbers. Some of these statistics are highlighted and elaborated upon below.
3,428 animals sheltered, at least 69% 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, Spencer, Henderson, and other counties.
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 from other area shelters who are full as often as we can. We accept any type of small domestic animal. Of the 175 animals we sheltered in 2019 besides dogs, cats, and rabbits, among them were guinea pigs, birds, reptiles, and rodents.
Also notable is the fact that we took in almost 500 more animals in 2019 than we did in 2016, 2017, or 2018! This is an admirable feat when one considers the fact that VHS maintained all its other services and programming while still caring for so many more animals than normal.
The fact that 69% of our animals came from Vanderburgh County, which is consistent with every other year, demonstrates that there is still an animal overpopulation problem in our city/county and that our leadership must be on board with programs and policies that help relieve the burden on our local shelter system.
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.
202 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 16 of our adoptable cats at any given time. Their total number of adoptions from then to now totals more than 410. As announced at a press conference in November, the VHS now owns and operates River Kitty as a nonprofit program. There was no interruption in the adoption process whatsoever during this transition.
Also among these adoptions were 14 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.
324 Euthanized + 26 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."
In 2019 at the VHS:
- 26 animals died of natural causes in our care, either from unforeseen medical issues or of old age. Many of these were young kittens born outdoors to feral mothers and having no veterinary care before coming to us. (However, overall, we did reduce our kitten mortality rate by an additional 5%. See below.)
- 324 animals were euthanized: 46% for aggression, lack of socialization, or behavior problems; and 54% for severe health issues. Of those with health issues, only 20 of them could have been cured or rehabilitated.
For the second year, 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. 2018 was the first year ever that we reached this milestone. 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:
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:
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 yet. 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:
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.
222 Transferred Out
These are animals that we sent to other facilities who had more space, or dogs who went to breed-specific rescues who could better manage their health or behavior issues. The majority are cats who went to less-crowded shelters. We continue to struggle with overcrowding of cats every year at VHS.
94 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 every Saturday 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.
5% 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 saw very positive results, reducing kitten mortality by 9% the first year. In 2019 we reduced it by an additional 5%, totaling a 14% reduction in neonatal kitten mortality (under 2 months old) in less than 2 years!
In 2019, neonate kittens (aged 8 weeks and under) accounted for 25% of our total cat intake. And that 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.
43 Dogs Treated for Heartworms
We treated almost twice as many heartworm-positive dogs in 2019 than ever before! The most in any other years was 25 (2016 and 2018.) This is likely due to shorter winters with higher temperatures in recent years, which do not allow ample time for mosquitoes & other pests to die off in hard freezes. Heartworm is transmitted through mosquitoes. The VHS reminds the public to always keep dogs on monthly heartworm prevention, which is prescribed through your veterinarian’s office or sold at the VHS Low-Cost Vaccine Clinic.
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 to help us treat heartworm-positive dogs in 2020.
812 Animals Benefited from Foster Care
Our foster care program serves a variety of animals. These include:
21 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!
8 Pets Housed through Safe Pets
This 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. For information on this program, visit www.vhslifesaver.org or call (812) 426-2563 extension 220.
62 hours of time at the park for shelter dogs through Cardio for Canines
CFC 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 at @cardioforcanines.
6,769 surgeries performed through the Davidson Rausch Low-Cost Spay & Neuter Clinic
This is divided between 1,977 dogs, 4,663 cats, and 129 rabbits. It includes shelter animals, publicly-owned pets, and animals on transports (see below.)
Of those surgeries, 994 of them were free-roaming community cats. These are cats who live primarily outdoors and do not have one specific “owner.”
45 pit bull-type dogs were fixed through our Pit Stop Program in 2019. 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.
38 surgeries were subsidized through our new “Yo Mama So Spayed” program. This provides free surgery for mother dogs & cats if the family surrenders all the puppies & kittens to the shelter for adoption. It takes the burden of finding homes for accidental puppies & kittens off of the families, and ensures they will be vetted & fixed prior to adoption, while also preventing future litters and allowing momma dog or momma cat to stay in her current home. The program is a win-win for everyone.
We also provide surgeries and/or transports for 11 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. We currently have a waiting list of organizations who need our spay/neuter transport program, but we do not have the funding to expand surgery capacity to accommodate them.
Our Clinic has altered more than 79,000 local animals total in 13 years. Spay & neuter is the only permanent solution to overpopulation, and we are making a drastic impact throughout the Tri-State.
3,241 kids served through 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 contact Cyndi Donley, Humane Education Coordinator.
In 2019, Cyndi and her team of volunteers provided 144 programs to kids and adults. 46 of those programs were done at Tri-State schools.
386 Mutt’s Morning Out outings with 121 registered human participants
The VHS’ newest program launched in March 2019. It allows the public to take dogs “out on the town” for 2 hours on weekday mornings Tuesday-Friday. They can go to the park, the pet store, to pet-friendly restaurants, etc. 121 people participated (many of whom regularly return each week) and took 113 dogs out on 386, giving them a much-needed break from the shelter. The people have fun and make meaningful connections while the dogs get extra exercise, attention, fresh air, and stress relief.
VHS eNews Sign Up Today