A drop in the number of animals at Orange County Animal Care in 2011 has also reduced the number euthanized, according to year-end statistics recently released by the shelter.
A total of 31,044 animals—dog, cats and other creatures—found themselves at the shelter in 2011. That's 4 percent fewer than in 2010, when 32,390 animals spent time there.
"It's tough to put a specific reason on [the decrease]," Ryan Drabek, director of OC Animal Care, told Patch in a phone interview.
But, Drabek said that the number of animals at the shelter has been decreasing each year since that total peaked in 2007, which could point to a connection to the late-2000s recession.
" was one of our biggest years ever," Drabek said. "We've seen constant decreases since then and that's a trend we want to continue to see."
A total of 10,024 animals were adopted from the facility during the year.
Of those who ended up at the shelter during 2011, 47 percent (or 14,634) were eventually euthanized. An additional 6 percent (1,809) were killed by owner request because the animal was suffering, or had a history of aggression.
That's a 3 percent drop from the total number of creatures killed (excluding euthanasia by owner request) in 2010.
However, while fewer animals were euthanized than in 2010, the percentage of creatures who never came out after entering the shelter remained nearly identical—about 53 percent.
As in 2010, cats fared much worse than dogs after being impounded at the shelter. A full 74 percent of cats at the shelter in 2011 ended up being euthanized, while only 25 percent of dogs suffered the same fate.
Reducing the number of cats killed in 2012 will be a main focus at the shelter, Drabek said.
Of the 9,899 cats euthanised in 2011, about a third were feral and another third, too young to survive. Those numbers are essentially unchanged from the previous year.
Neonatal cats at the shelter are typically offspring of feral cats, so controlling the wild cat population is essential to reducing those numbers, Drabek said.
Implementing a spay/neuter voucher program and a trap/neuter/release program could change those feline-focused statistics, said Drabek, who hopes to get one or both in place in 2012 with assistance from the Noble Friends Foundation, a nonprofit supporting the shelter.
A total of 208 animals were killed at the shelter in 2011 because of the length of time the animal had been at the shelter, or a lack of space. It's the first year that statistic has been monitored, though Drabek estimates it would have been a similar picture in 2011.
Keeping statistics on stray versus stray-owned animals (those with some form of identification) is another relatively new measure being tracked.
The fates of animals who have ID are "astonishingly different" than those that have no tag or microchip, he said.
"Something that we've been preaching to our community for a long time is the importance of your pet having ID," he said.
In 2011, 30 percent of stray dogs at the shelter without ID were killed—double the rate for dogs with a tag or microchip. For cats, the chance of survival was even worse. A whopping 82 percent without ID were euthanized, compared to less than half that for cats with identification.
This year, the shelter will intensify its focus on encouraging residents to—at minimum—put a nametag on their pets, Drabek said.
That could mean the difference between euthanasia and a happy reunion for a lost pet.
Shelter statistics released by the county's Animal Care have been broken down by the 18 cities and unincorporated areas it serves.
Find the 2011 overview for your city in this list: Anaheim, Brea, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Laguna Hills, Lake Forest, Orange, Placentia, Rancho Santa Margarita, Santa Ana, San Juan Capistrano, Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park, Yorba Linda and unincorporated areas.
Interested in picking out a new, furry family member home from among those animals housed at OC Animal Care? Check out the slideshow to the right for a handful of the animals currently up for adoption. See all the animals available to take home here.