Animal shelter adds more weekend hours

The Jackson County Animal Shelter has added new weekend hours to make pet adoptions more convenient for potential owners.

"We've been opening the gate on Sundays," said Barbara Talbert, shelter director.

The schedule change is one of the recommendations in an 85-page report released by the Oregon Humane Society in August 2012 that found policies and practices at the shelter were leading to a high rate of euthanasia — 81 percent among cats and 35 percent among dogs in 2011.

The shelter returned to full staffing levels of 10 employees in February, and maintains about 300 volunteers. But an abnormally long "kitten season" has challenged the shelter to keep up with adoptions, she said.

"We know weekends are when people who are working can most easily make it to the shelter," Talbert said, adding the warm fall weather has allowed cats to continue breeding.

"Kitten season has not stopped," Talbert said. "We've had 150 kittens and cats come into the shelter each month since May. The good news is we've been adopting out in record numbers."

The OHS report acknowledged the shelter's former policies were meant to ensure the well-being of pets and owners, but some of them actually restricted adoption and hindered the reuniting of lost pets with their owners, the report found.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or

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