ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County Animal Services is celebrating a huge accomplishment in 2020: a record live release rate, the most in over half a century.
The shelter reports that there were 6,436 domestic animals and other pets adopted. Adding in the number of animals either rescued, relocated, or returned to owners, the shelter says the total number of live releases was 10,032, or 88-percent of total impounds.
That's an increase from 82-percent in 2019.
“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, 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.”
The 51-year-old animal shelter, located near the Mall at Millenia, is the county’s only open admission shelter, meaning no animal in need is turned away.
More than 62,500 guests visited the shelter and volunteers logged a remarkable 14,453 hours.
The animal shelter says it impounded about 1,200 more cats than dogs in 2020. They have put a number of initiatives in place to specifically help cats and kittens as this group has fewer resources than the homeless dogs.
“We receive a tremendous number of orphaned kittens,” 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.”