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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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SCRAPS joins statewide test pilot group to increase ‘live release’ rates

This cat touches a passerby at SCRAPS on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
This cat touches a passerby at SCRAPS on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

The Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service has joined a new coalition of animal rescue organizations in Washington state committed to working toward the live release of at least 90 percent of the animals in their care.

The Pet Alliance of Washington includes 11 agencies and organizations. The group will be looking at collaborative ways to save more animals and avoid euthanization except when an animal is too sick or dangerous to be adopted, said SCRAPS director Lindsey Soffes.

SCRAPS, the only member of the alliance in Eastern Washington, is the first to test a pilot fellowship program. The goal is not only to get the overall live release numbers for animals in Washington state to above 90 percent by 2020, but to get them above 90 percent for each shelter and rescue organization by 2025.

Part of the program will be to standardize what information is collected and how, said Soffes. “The term live release itself is open to interpretation,” she said.

SCRAPS has a more than 90 percent save rate. The save rate is the total number of animals received compared to the number of animals that were euthanized or died. A live release rate typically looks at the specific outcomes for each animal and animals that are still in the shelter are not counted, Soffes said. SCRAPS typically determines its live release rate at the end of each year but uses the save rate to track animals from month to month.

SCRAPS has a save rate of above 90 percent for both cats and dogs. The shelter’s euthanization rates for cats used to be much higher and the save rate only went above 90 percent last year after an increased focus on foster care and transferring excess cats to other shelters that had room. The SCRAPS Hope Foundation also provided additional help with medical care for sick animals.

“We took killing them off the table,” she said. “We will only end a life to alleviate suffering or if public safety is an issue.”

The idea is that the alliance will help provide services like dog training to make animals more adoptable in addition to helping fund low-cost spay and neuter programs and transporting animals to different shelters when needed.

“The hope is that we, as an alliance, can secure grant funding that we couldn’t get by ourselves,” she said. “This is very new for us. The other piece of this is just doing better by our animals.”

Soffes said she’d like to see SCRAPS improve its rate even more because roughly 99 percent of animals can be saved.

The financial aspect of the alliance is still taking shape, which is one reason SCRAPS is the only organization in the pilot program. There will likely be fundraisers scheduled in the future.

“It’s still coalescing,” she said. “We understand what the intent is. We have the right people at the table. We hope it will really take shape.”

The Pet Alliance’s board of directors includes representatives from Seattle Humane, the Humane Society for Southwest Washington, Blue Mountain Humane Society, Kitsap Humane Society, Pasado’s Safe Haven, Northwest Spay and Neuter Center, Regional Animal Services of King County, Wentachee Valley Humane Society, South County Cats, SCRAPS and Best Friends Animal Society.

SCRAPS will work with its local partners, including SpokAnimal, Pet Savers and the Spokane Humane Society, on the new initiative. The organizations already work together by transferring animals if one shelter gets full and other has room.

“All of us are in this together,” Soffes said. “We think we can be more proactive about how we pool resources.”

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