In Savannah Morning News Column

A Year of Change

Savannah Morning News – October 6, 2017 Michelle Thevenin, Executive Director

If you’ve been to the shelter at the Humane Society for Greater Savannah over the past 6 months, you’ll notice some obvious changes in how pets and people flow through the building.  These changes have led to some not as obvious improvements in our overall outcomes for those we serve.

  1. Adoptable pets:  Our adoptable dogs are now in one corridor right outside of the adoptable cat room.  This allows us to more efficiently staff our adoption area and provide better customer service.  Our next project is to repaint the peeling floors and walls in those kennels.  We also upgraded the individual kennels for our cats so they would have a shelf space to escape to above their litter boxes.  These improvements get us closer to providing the standard of care recommended by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians.
  2. Surrender (Intake) Space:  When someone surrenders a pet they now meet with staff in a private room at the back of the building.  Aside from the being more compassionate, this space is next to our medical exam room – medical staff can examine a pet as part of the intake process and determine if there are any medical issues that raise concerns, particularly communicable diseases like ringworm, upper respiratory viruses and mange.   Proactive disease control saves resources and lives.
  3. Technology: You might notice that we ask you to sign in when you visit via a small tablet computer.  This allows us to track foot traffic in our shelter, compare it to our adoption data and change staffing to provide better service during high volume days.  We had been closed on Mondays but when we saw how busy we were on Tuesdays we decided there was a lot of pent up demand from that one closed day and so we added additional hours on Mondays.  Sundays were the slowest day of the week so we cut back on our public hours on Sundays.  We use technology in many other ways to increase our efficiency and serve more pets.
  4. Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s):  We created and implemented SOPs across the shelter and medical operations after conducting an initial audit from the Association of Shelter Veterinarians.  Animal care, feeding, transfer and medical care have all been documented, improved and made consistent across the shelter.  With improved processes in place, we are more efficient and more capable of diagnosing and treating diseases such as ringworm.  And that in turn saves lives.

These improvements and changes matter because they improve our results.  Our live release rate is currently above 97% for 2017.  At this time last year, it was near 85% for 2016.  Our length-of-stay has decreased, which means our pets are less likely to get stressed and become sick.  Due to increase efficiency and effectiveness, our staff have more time to spend with the pets in our care and the 22,000 people who walk through our doors every year.  And we can work more with our partners in coastal Georgia to increase our community-wide live release rates, which is our broader focus.  Kudos to William Brown III, our director of operations, and his team for a job well done!

This weekend is “Adopt-oberfest” at HSGS! All adoptions during October 6-8th are free* and include a collar and personalized ID tag. This event is made possible by a grant through ASPCA/ Subaru Loves Pets Fee-Waived Adoption Program. *Puppies are excluded from promotion.