Orange County Animal Services has had a record live release rate for fiscal year 2020, the most in over half a century. With 6,436 domestic animals and other pets adopted, as well as the additional animals either rescued, relocated or returned to owners, the total number of live releases was 10,032, or 88 percent of total impounds. This live release rate increased from the 82 percent achieved in fiscal year 2019.

These are impressive numbers, especially considering the 51-year-old animal shelter is the County’s only open admission shelter, meaning no animal in need is turned away, regardless of their individual health or temperament challenges. More than 62,500 guests visited the shelter, located near the Mall at Millenia, and volunteers logged a remarkable 14,453 hours, which helped facilitate adoptions and guest interactions.

“This milestone would not have been possible without our support networks – our foster parents, rescue partners, volunteers and adopters,” said Diane Summers, manager of Orange County Animal Services. “Whenever we’ve turned to the community for assistance with a more challenging animal the plea has been answered and we’ve been amazed at the response. Additionally, one of our strongest networks is that of our staff, a group of people united by their shared compassion for helping pets and one that has shown, this year especially, the ability to adapt at a moment’s notice.”

Summers believes the COVID-19 pandemic may have impacted this year’s numbers. “I think it increased the desire for people to seek out a companion during these isolating times,” she explained. “Also, I think now more than ever people are viewing pets as an extension of their family and making efforts to keep them, even in the face of obstacles, which I suspect is part of the reason we’ve received 5,000 less animals this year than the year prior.”

Animal Services gets more cats than dogs, and this year it impounded approximately 1,200 more cats (6,720) than dogs (5,504). The shelter has put a number of initiatives in place to specifically help cats and kittens as this group has fewer resources than the homeless dogs. The majority of rescue groups partnered with the shelter exist to help dogs while very few accept cats. Additionally, the reclaim rate for stray dogs by their owners is 39 percent, compared to just 4 percent for stray cats.

“We receive a tremendous number of orphaned kittens and this is the subset of our animal population that needs our focus at the moment,” said Summers. “The more foster parents we have on board to help these little ones the more lives we can save, and through that we can hope to increase that live release rate even further. Our call to action at this point is for foster parents and we welcome anyone interested to find out more about the program and consider providing temporary housing for animals that otherwise have no option.”

For Animal Services updates, follow them on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. To learn more about programs and services, visit www.ocnetpets.com. For fostering and adopting opportunities, go to  http://www.orangecountyanimalservicesfl.net/GetInvolved/FosterCare.aspx.

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