Fighting for Change at Multnomah County Animal Services

About Gimme Shelter Portland


We and our supporters are compassionate citizens from all walks of life, moved to act on behalf of every animal who, for whatever reason, ends up in a shelter.

Our serious activism in shelter animal welfare issues began after we sold our small business in Portland and suddenly had the time to follow the fates of the hundreds of thousands of animals who end up at Multnomah County Animal Services every year.

Soon thereafter, then Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler and then City Councillor Randy Leonard, created the 2008 Joint City/County Animal Services Taskforce.

Concerned over the performance of this widely reviled public agency, they appealed to concerned citizens to examine MCAS operations and propose practical changes. By the time the task force concluded in 2009, however, both officials had lost interest.

Wheeler and Leonard’s waning interest only served to further ignite our compassion and sense of responsibility to the dogs, cats and other animals impounded at MCAS. Since then, we have committed every minute of our extra time to studying the records, yearly budgets and all available performance measures in an effort to assess MCAS’s chronic deficiencies. We’ve attended conferences, traveled to other shelters, produced detailed documents and materials, met with City and County officials, lobbied and testified. We even brought the Director of a successful, self-sustaining Calgary Canada Animal Services to meet with elected officials. The convincing presentation of his impressive, importable model, had us believing that County officials would be willing to investigate further.

They showed no interest.

In ten years we tried employing every approach imaginable to convince County Commissioners to bring about reform. The names and faces of the Commissioners and officials have changed - what hasn’t changed is the continued failure of MCAS to carry out its mission.