EUGENE– We’ve all heard of the dogpound (and I’m not talking about Snoop or a fist-bump) either we’ve seen the dogcatcher in our neighborhood, or we’ve had to go down and pick up sweet senile ‘ole “Daisy” from doggy-jail. Here in Eugene, ours has gone through some radical changes over the past decade. The stigma of old policies and the “era of the dogcatcher” are gone, and thanks to caring officials and community members, Lane County Animal Services (formerly Lane County Animal Regulation Authority) has turned into one of the best places to adopt a pet in town.
We’ve always had a massive problem with strays in Eugene and Lane County. In the early days of the pound, almost two-thirds of the animals that came through the doors were euthanized. Cats weren’t even in the language of the law until the early 2000’s saw a community-lead push for an Animal Regulation Advisory Task Force. The task force helped reshape the codes and oversee the forming of our modern Lane County Animal Services. They researched how other shelters had moved away from unnecessary deaths of adoptable animals, and implemented a plan that included a network of shelters, incentives for adoption, and standards for kennels and pens.
Today, LCAS manages to keep animals moving through its doors fairly fast. When they’re not being returned to owners or adopted out to new families, they are sent to Greenhill and the Portland Humane Society. “Here at LCAS we strive to be a completely no-kill shelter, but we do sometimes have to euthanize for medical reasons. I just had to sign off on a ‘pit for medical reasons recently, and it was really hard… even given the circumstances.” Rick Hammel, the new manager of Lane County Animal Services told me, “We’re down to around 1 a month, but we no longer euthanize for lack of space.”
To Hammel they’re in a unique position as the entry point for a network of shelters, the pound is just the first stop for many animals, “We are not really set up to sell a dog or a cat, not like Greenhill or the other shelters, originally we were set up to just enforce code… it isn’t the most user-friendly environment, but we have some fantastic people and some really great animals [Including ‘Lyle’, a 150 lb pot-bellied pig]. So we make do.”
Each animal has a story at LCAS. The circumstances surrounding why an animal had to come to the shelter can be night and day from next one. There are abused animals, strays, unwanted pets, and runaways. “We’ve recently had a spike in collections in the countryside, as if more people are feeling the need to set their pets free in the wilderness… yeah, they just end up here.” Hammel said. Despite it’s old reputation for housing the more “dangerous” animals, the Eugene pound is a friendly place where all animals are treated with respect and tenderness. All of the animals are loved, exercised, and fed back to both physical and mental health.
Our family recently adopted from LCAS and not only did we come how with one of the coolest cats EVER… She came totally pimped out with a free spay/neuter, luekemia and AIDS testing, up-to-date vaccinations, a collar, ID tag, pet carrier, a nice cat bed, a microchip, AND free registration with the county! Yeah, my kitty has GPS… does yours? The staff are extremely cordial and are there to help with every step of the adoption process because they simply just love seeing the animals get new homes and families. “We spend time with these guys, sometimes nursing them, loving them, of course we want nothing but the best for ’em!” One worker told me with a smile, “Wanna take home another kitty?”