Beacon in animal welfare

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In the ongoing fight against animal cruelty, neglect, overpopulation, and homelessness, Petlandia is a beacon of justice and compassion. Here, we have a long history of passing laws and supporting programs that save lives.

Milestone for Oregon Humane Society

As the region’s oldest animal welfare organization, OHS has been fighting animal cruelty since before Portland had paved streets. This year, as the organization marks its 150th birthday, its Portland shelter achieves some of the highest pet adoption numbers in the western US and supports Oregon’s only dedicated team of animal cruelty investigators.

In 1884 and 1885, when mistreated horses used in farming and transportation were a common concern, OHS helped pass the first statewide humane laws. Legislators signed a law imposing a $100 fine and/or 60 days in jail for “Whoever overdrives, overloads, deprives of necessary sustenance, or cruelly beats” an animal.

Today, OHS Staff Attorney and Investigative Lead Emily Lewis says the region’s animal-friendly laws make Oregon a leader. Senate Bill 6 is a celebrated example, and one of Lewis’ favorites in her seven years at OHS. In that groundbreaking 2013 bill, lawmakers increased penalties for certain crimes against animals. It’s significant, she says, in that it “captures Oregonians’ reverence and respect for animals, acknowledging that they’re sentient, and experience pain, stress, and fear. They’re not just regular evidence in a case.”

Oregon is progressive for adding to the list of violations that are felonies, Lewis continues. “If someone has a prior conviction for certain domestic violence crimes, it can make an animal abuse crime a felony versus a misdemeanor. Also, if committed in front of a minor, that’s acknowledged.”

Lewis says she can’t imagine working in any other part of the country, but even in humane-minded Oregon, there’s always more to do. One example is the Oregon pre-conviction forfeiture law, which lets judges and humane agencies put animals in new homes while their alleged abusers await trial. In the past, shelters sometimes held animals in limbo for months or years while the legal wheels slowly turned. “Almost every year we work to make it stronger and more applicable to the cases and issues we’re seeing,” Lewis says.

At the shelter and on her unique team of law enforcement officers, Lewis says, “We’re always looking to help more.”

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Fences for Fido  Unleashes a Humane Trend

When a dozen Portland friends teamed up in May 2009 to build a free fenced yard for a dog named Chopper, they unleashed more than a dog. The friendly yellow Lab mix had watched the world go by from the end of a chain because his family couldn’t afford to fence their corner lot.

When news outlets picked up Chopper’s story, urgent pleas to help other dogs flooded in, citing dogs who had languished alone on chains, exposed to the elements, sometimes for many years.

Volunteers — this writer included — recall that the work took on a life of its own. As they formed the Portland-based nonprofit, Fences For Fido, and scrambled to meet the unrelenting need, the momentum seemed to pick them up and run with them.

Less than a decade later, that group of friends has ballooned to several hundred volunteers who’ve unleashed more than 1800 dogs in Oregon and SW Washington. They’ve also helped change Oregon tether laws and inspired others across the country to follow suit.

Oregon House Bill 2783 took effect January 1, 2014, restricting the number of hours a dog could be tethered to a stationary object and clarifies legal requirements for appropriate animal housing, bedding, and care.

In the years since, states and communities across the US have seen a proliferation of 90-plus laws either limiting or fully banning the practice of keeping dogs on chains. Fences For Fido volunteers supported many of those changes, guiding activists, providing sample bill language, and sharing tips through the group’s outreach effort, dubbed “Unchained Planet.”

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Multnomah County  Folds Up the Circus Tent

Responding to pleas from animal advocates and a flood of testimony and letters from residents, Multnomah County Commissioners voted unanimously July 12 to ban circuses and traveling shows that use exotic animals.

Local resident Andrea Kozil launched the effort in March, approaching Commissioner Sharon Meieran with proposed language for an ordinance. “Wild or exotic animals used in traveling animal displays suffer severe and extended confinement,” Kozil says, and the acts perpetuate the demand for the sale and breeding of the animals. After visiting an exotic animal show to see the practices for herself, Meieran told Kozil she’d champion the ban.

Portland resident Kelly Peterson, who works for the Humane Society of the United States, says her organization counts a total of 137 US communities and four states with similar bans. “I’m so pleased that Multnomah County has been added to such a distinguished list, especially since Oregon continues to be ranked as the second most animal-friendly state in the nation.”

- Michelle Blake

Barney

Hi there! My name is Barney and I'm a sensitive boy who’s looking for a quiet home. The shelter is overwhelming for me and I can't wait to find a loving family. I can be sensitive with handling, but once I feel comfortable I become very playful and bouncy! I love toys, but don't like to share, so I need a home with no kids under 12 years old. I should be the center of your attention as the only animal in the home. At 12 years old I am a very spry guy — and a fit and easy 31 lbs — that loves going for walks and exploring, then maybe a little snooze near you. If you think you could give me the loving home I'm looking for, please come meet me today!  I’m at Multnomah County Animal Services.  Multcopets.org.

Cindy Lou

Hey everybody! My name is Cindy Lou and I'm looking for a nice retirement home! I am just the sweetest lady, who enjoys giving kisses, going for walks, and spending time with my people. As you can see, I'm in need of some TLC. Though I'm quite lumpy and bumpy, I still have lots of pep in my step and I'd love to spend my golden years with you! Please come meet me today! I am around 12 years old and weigh 68 pounds. Please come meet me!  I'm at Mulnomah County Animal Services in Troutdale, Multcopets.org.

Jack Black

Hi! I’m Jack Black and I’ve been in the shelter system since February. I know I'm a bit older and have my aches and pains, but I'm a handsome guy who is more than ready for my new family! I've got a little arthritis, so I hope if there’s kids, they’re 10 or older. I love walks, and am on a special diet to keep my allergies down. I know I might sound like more work than some dogs, but I'm SO worth it!  I am around 11 and weigh a hefty 87 pounds. I can’t wait to meet you — I could be the dog of your heart! Please come see me at Multnomah County Animal Services, or learn more at multcopets.org

Hugo

Hi! I’m a lean, rather exotic-looking, Tabby who came to the shelter to find a home. I’m 10, so it takes a bit for me to adapt to change — I’m the guy who still has my old flip phone and don’t want to upgrade! But I’m also the guy who can’t wait to snuggle with you! I am friendly and affectionate, but when I get scared I can get a little anxious and even a little grumpy. I need a home with kids 8 or older, who can understand my quirks. If this sounds like you, please come meet me at Multcopets.org.

Mr. Handsome Pants

This big lug is shy on the outside and a lovebug on the inside. He’s spent some time on the streets but it’s clear he spent part of his life as someone’s companion — he loves indoor living and having his big cheeks scritched! Handsome is FIV+, so he is indoors only. He just needs regular vet care as his immune system isn't as strong as it could be. He is 3 years old and ready to go home! Meet this wonderful guy at multcopets.org. Handsome’s ID# is 571753.

Jessie

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Hello, everyone! I'm Jessie, an incredibly sweet Labrador Retriever who’s ready to fill your home with quiet love and appreciation. I'm an older girl, so time to rest my hips is always appreciated. But I’m still a goofy lab, so fetching a ball a few times makes me feel youthful, and so happy! I do have some allergies, so I need a top-notch diet and regular flea control. I’m doing well in foster care; they say I’m a wonderful and loving companion. Want to share in my golden years? I dream of a family with kids over 12; I’m about 10, and I weigh 70 lbs. Come meet me! Contact Alix to set it up at alix.womack@multco.us or 503.988.6247. We might just fall in love! Learn more at multcopets.org — my ID # is 569685.

Rojo

Hi Everyone! I'm Rojo, just a big lug with a great big heart! I'm a French Mastiff mix, and fairly athletic. Not much is known about me before I came to the shelter, except that someone tried to crop my ears and did a terrible hack job. Even though my prior owner didn't care for me properly, I'm quite social with people and other dogs. I've been a perfect gentleman here in at the shelter, and I'm ready to find a family of my very own! I'm big and young so my ideal family wouldn't have small children that I could accidentally knock over, but kids over 10? Love ‘em! I'd prefer to have a doggy sister, since, I admit, I’m a bit of a ladies man. I am quite smart and motivated, and I would love my new family to take me school for positive obedience classes. Think I’m your guy? Come meet me! I'm at Multnomah County Animal Services, multcopets.org

Mercury

They say I’m an exquisite young lady who is affectionate and absolutely adores human companionship.  I’m healthy, strong and very playful.  I love chasing my feather wand, knotted strings, and playing inside my Catty Stacks with my foster cat sister.  I may seem a little shy at first, but that’s a cat thing; once we get to know each other, we’ll be friends for life!  You can talk to my foster mom at lisamcgillicuddy@comcast.net, or contacts MultCoPets.org.

MCAS reports record adoptions in December

An “Operation Silent Night” promotion conducted by Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS) in December was anything but quiet: nearly 300 dogs and cats found forever homes for the holidays. While just short of MCAS’s goal of having a completely empty shelter by New Year’s Eve, December 2014 was the most successful month for adoptions the shelter has seen in years.

MCAS Director Mike Oswald praised the community for stepping up, and encouraged ongoing involvement with the shelter. “We hope to keep up the momentum in 2015, with folks continuing to visit the shelter in Troutdale and adopting, fostering, and using the many services we have to offer.” Learn more at MultCoPets.org.