A group of six Portland and Vancouver animal shelters received a prestigious Maddie’s Fund Community Lifesaving Award totaling $1 million May 21. The six shelters are members of the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland (ASAP).

The award is given to communities that have saved all healthy shelter dogs and cats for multiple years and can demonstrate the ability to sustain this “adoption guarantee” for healthy pets in the future.

The community further needs to exemplify strength in collaboration and strategic initiatives that could serve as a model in other communities across the United States.

The shelters are: Bonnie L. Hays Small Animal Shelter/Washington County Animal Services, Cat Adoption Team (Sherwood), Clackamas County Dog Services, Humane Society for Southwest Washington, Multnomah County Animal Services and the Oregon Humane Society (Portland).

“The award funds are being allocated to the six shelters based on adoption and transfer numbers while some monies will be pooled for future collaborative projects to further benefit shelter animals,” said Britta Bavaresco, co-founder of ASAP. “This generous funding is a huge boost for the community and helps our shelters meet the ongoing needs of our homeless pets while saving even more lives by focusing on medical transfers and treatments, behavior training, adoption promotions and special efforts for hard-to-place pets.”

Since its founding in 2006, ASAP has worked diligently to end the euthanasia of healthy, social and treatable dogs and cats in local shelters. Starting with a live release or save rate of 62 percent in 2006, ASAP has implemented several programs that decreased shelter intake and increased the transfers of animals between shelters.

Its successful “Spay & Save” program has altered more than 30,000 cats owned by people needing financial assistance, resulting in a 25 percent decrease in shelter intake of cats within just two years.

“As a coalition, we have worked very hard to save all healthy cats and dogs and the majority of the pets that come into our care who need treatment before adoption,” says Sharon Harmon, executive director of the Oregon Humane Society. “But there is still more to do. We want to save all of the animals that need some extra help and that we know would make wonderful pets in an adoptive home. The Maddie’s Fund grant will help us get on our way but it is our hope that this award will inspire even more animal lovers to take action. These generous funds, coupled with further involvement by our community, could be a springboard to the next level of animal sheltering in Portland.”

ASAP encourages all citizens to make 2013 the year they get involved with their local animal shelter, helping Portland become a community where every shelter pet finds a home. For more information, contact ASAP at or your local animal shelter and become an adopter, volunteer, foster parent or donor.

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