Team Shelter USA final report and progress report

In October, Montgomery County announced a comprehensive strategy to evaluate all levels of operations at the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center. The goal of this strategy was to improve shelter operations, increase our live release rate, and ensure that our services met the needs and expectations of our community.

As part of this strategy, Montgomery County hired Team Shelter USA to conduct an objective, independent best practice review of the shelter because we heard the concerns of our citizens and animal welfare advocates. We are committed to being transparent with the community about this process and sharing this report is a step in the right direction. The final report is now available here: Team Shelter USA Final Report: Montgomery County Animal Resource Center.

The Commissioners and I were troubled and dismayed by the overall findings of this report. We care deeply about the well-being of people and pets in our community. We have made improving the Animal Resource Center and increasing our live release rate a top priority for our administration.

During this review, it became clear that the Animal Resource Center needed new leadership and direction. The County Commissioners took immediate action and appointed Bob Gruhl as Interim Director of the Animal Resource Center to improve overall shelter operations and ensure that the best practices recommended in this report are fully implemented. We trust Bob Gruhl’s ability to spearhead this effort.

We have already made progress on the 30 emergency action items listed in this report, which were provided by Team Shelter USA during their final review meeting, as well as updated our jurisdiction cat contracts and our euthanasia policy. Please click here to view a comprehensive progress report. Highlights from the progress report include:

  • Discontinuation of routine temperament testing
  • New protocols that ensure the adoption area is full at all times
  • Implementation of fee waived adoptions until further notice ($20 dogs, $10 cats)
  • Elimination of physical exams and fecal tests by vet staff unless there is a clear medical need, which will help speed up intake/adoption process
  • Fast tracking hiring for open positions to ensure appropriate staffing levels to implement best practices
  • Creation of new outreach coordinator to focus on working with rescue organizations and on adoption
  • Change in cat control contracts with jurisdictions to transition to Return to Field (trap/spay/neuter/release) programs in the jurisdictions

We are committed to sharing frequent updates with the community as we continue to implement all of these recommendations.

Michael B. Colbert
Montgomery County Administrator