Montgomery County Animal Shelter (MCAS) has named Operation Pets Alive (OPA) as its 501(c)3 non-profit partner. OPA is an attractive partner due to the breadth of life-saving programs the group already has in place. Based on the premise of a “no-kill” community, OPA’s current focus is on the following programs:
- Transports: Through OPA’s Flight for Life and Pups on Trucks transports local at-risk dogs and cats are moved from MCAS to NE shelters, where family-friendly pets are adopted rapidly. OPA has transported over 2,300 dogs and cats since 2011, with the number increasing each year.
- Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR): Feral, or roaming cats, taken to a shelter are typically killed. With TNR, feral cats are trapped, sterilized, vaccinated then returned to their colonies or placed for adoption if necessary. A feral cat’s cropped left ear signifies it has been altered and vaccinated. With proper monitoring, feral cats can live long, happy lives and avoid crowding shelters.
- Adoption Events: Since OPA does not have a physical shelter, they rely on offsite adoption events held at retailers such as Petco and Petsmart to place animals with local families. The partnership with MCAS will enable shelter dogs and cats to attend OPA off-site events.
- Fostering: OPA’s robust fostering program includes long-term fosters who keep pets through medical treatment until they are ready for adoption and also includes short-term fosters who typically keep pets for roughly two weeks while they wait to be transported to other shelters. OPA provides the veterinary services for foster animals in their program through the use of community veterinary clinics. Through the partnership, OPA will also assist MCAS foster families when the shelter’s veterinary clinic is not able to provide the services themselves. For instance, the shelter does not have an X-Ray machine, so when a pet has a suspected injury in which an X-Ray is needed, OPA will cover that cost at an outside veterinary clinic.
- Targeted Spay/Neuter: Reducing the intake of unplanned puppy litters is a crucial step to improving live-release rates. OPA has partnered with other groups and with veterinarians to provide low-cost spay/neuter for the County’s lower-income residents. OPA supports the County’s efforts to provide better access to low-cost spay/neuter services.
Montgomery County has contracted with a company called C.A.R.E. (Caring for Animals Reducing Euthanasia) Corporation, owned by veterinarians Dr. Aubrey Ross II and Dr. Diarra Blue, to manage shelter operations. The county, nor C.A.R.E., can distribute tax-deductible receipts for donations. The partnership with OPA will assure that donations are tax-deductible and support life-saving programs for animals at MCAS and in Montgomery County at large. OPA is governed by a board of directors, led by President and Founder Marcia Piotter. For Piotter, the partnership should open the door for implementation of new programs that will increase live release and will strengthen those already in place. “Our partnering transport shelters in the Northeast are requesting more of our local MCAS dogs (called “Dixie” dogs) than we have been able to afford to send and each one we send in turn funds the spay or neuter of a dog here at home. Programs like this one serves to maximize live release while also reducing shelter intake. Minimizing intake and maximizing live release must go hand-in-hand with caring for the animals while in the shelter.”
C.A.R.E. is striving to move toward a no-kill community and hopes that the addition of OPA will serve to further that mission. Dr. Ross knows that building a no-kill shelter will be an uphill battle, but feels it is one worth fighting. “What we want to do is save lives. Period. The only way to do that is through innovative programs – programs such as transports and TNR – things that OPA is already doing.” Through their partnership, OPA and MCAS hope to put in place the programs that have demonstrated success in achieving the goal of a no-kill community. Generally, a shelter is considered to be a no-kill shelter when they are saving over 90% of homeless pets. Euthanasia is reserved for those animals with a grave prognosis for recovery or those considered dangerous to public safety. MCAS and OPA will continue work with other rescue groups, volunteers and business leaders in our community to maximize the impact on saving animals.