This post was updated Jan. 5 to reflect the correct operating hours.
Multnomah County Animal Services announced today it must temporarily shift to a crisis standard of care in the face of extreme overcrowding exacerbated by a surge in lost and stray pets over the holidays.
Beginning Jan. 4, Animal Services will redeploy all staff and volunteers to care for animals already at the shelter and to assist with moving to in person adoptions. The County will also tap community partners to help handle overflow. And, it will pause on accepting any stray animals until Jan. 11.
The week-long hiatus in accepting any new strays won’t affect staff’s ability to remove potentially dangerous animals from the community. But it will keep the shelter from becoming overburdened.
The pause will also help Animal Services fully resume in-person adoptions on Jan. 11, which moved online during the COVID-19.
In addition, Multnomah County Animal Services is asking anyone who already volunteers with an animal welfare organization to consider volunteering at the shelter to help assist with those pets already there.
The number of animals at the shelter surged in December, in part due to a seasonal uptick from animals fleeing their homes due to New Year’s fireworks celebrations, high numbers of travelers and a lack of capacity at other animal service organizations and medical facilities to offer relief.
The issues come as a new director at Animal Services and a new manager for the shelter facility work to rebuild staffing and restart in-person adoptions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the County conducted adoptions virtually, relying on posting profiles of adoptable animals on our website, doing interviews and adoptions counseling by telephone, and then doing in-person pickups of new pets.
”Our goal is always to safely and effectively shelter and care for animals until we can find or return them to their homes,’’ said Director Erin Grahek. “But right now, at this moment, we need the community’s help so we can continue that work — without backtracking on our commitment to resume in-person adoptions and improve overall services.”
Most stray animals are reported after being found within a small radius around their actual home. Community members who find a stray in the next week are asked to take actions to find the animal’s owners first before seeking help at the County.
People who find a pet are advised to do the following:
- If you find a pet wearing a Multnomah County license tag, use our License Lookup page to get owner contact information.
If you cannot reach the owner, follow the steps below:
- Search Lost Reports to view animals reported lost by their owners. Search lost reports daily until the owner is found.
- Submit a Found Report if the owner is not found after completing the steps above. It is very important to attach a photo of the animal. People whose pets are lost search these Found Reports every day.
- Search for the animal’s owner using Craigslist (Lost and Found and Pets sections), OregonLive.com, or Dove Lewis Lost and Found. You can also post the found pet on Nextdoor, Facebook Lost Pet groups, Petco Love Lost, PawBoost and other social media platforms. And look out for lost pet signs in your neighborhood.
- Scan the pet for a microchip at a vet’s office. But keep in mind: If a vet does not locate a microchip, it is possible that the animal has a microchip that is not detectable by the vet’s reader.
- If you want to keep the animal, there are certain steps you must legally take. By law, any person who finds and holds an animal must take certain steps to locate the owner before the finder can claim ownership. If you can’t find the owner and you’d like to keep the animal, you can perform the required steps outlined in the Multnomah County Ordinance.
The shelter will open back up to the public for adoptions on Wednesday, January 11 from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. New business hours will be Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.