By Ashley Watson
In July, Veterinary Medicine magazine published an article on a new program launched by the Oregon Humane Society (OHS) in the Portland, OR area. The program, cleverly titled “CATalyst Connection,” was designed to increase ongoing vet care for shelter cats after they are adopted. The OHS conducted a survey in 2012 that looked at the relationship between veterinarians and shelters, and how this relationship affected cat adoptions and ongoing vet care. The study found little connection between vets and the adoption process.
This discovery was the driving force behind the CATalyst Connection program. The OHS wanted to create a program that would build collaboration between vets and shelters throughout the area in the hopes that it would add incentive for potential pet parents to adopt more cats. Much of that incentive involves cost and ease of care.
The program design includes transferring health records via email from the shelter to a vet chosen by the adopter. Both the adopter and veterinarian would receive the records, which makes it easier for the vet to contact the new pet owner and schedule a complimentary exam. This free visit is something that veterinarians in the area were already doing, and the new program just takes it one step further.
Veterinarians are also asked to confirm the first visit so that they can keep track of how many pets receive the post-adoption exam. While the program started in Portland, the organization makes it easy for veterinarians across the country to start a similar program. If you visit the CATalyst connection website, you can download the materials used to start the program, including resources, email templates, and tracker forms to help keep track of the cat after adoption.
Benefits of CATalyst Program:
- Shelters are able to place cats and dogs in homes with greater confidence that the pet will not return
- Veterinary clinics see new pet owners earlier and gain additional clients while helping instill responsible ownership from the start
- Pet owners view animal shelters and veterinary clinics as an integral part of maintaining the well-being of their pets
- The community will benefit when more animals receive the care they need and deserve
- Veterinarians will recommend shelters and rescue organizations when clients seek new pets.
Ultimately, shelters and veterinarians share the same goal: Helping pets find good homes and ensuring that they get the veterinary care needed to keep them healthy. By working together in a program like this, vets and shelter volunteers can see measurable results and keep track of which parts of the program are working and how to improve the program as a whole.
Local Rescue Efforts
At Vetri-Science® of Vermont, we have worked with numerous veterinary clinics and shelters in our area to help support rescue efforts. In fact, many of the vets we have interviewed for our Clinic of the Month are involved with the Humane Society and other local shelters, and they offer free exams for shelter dogs and cats. But there are always ways to strengthen these relationships and improve the lives of pets.
How is your clinic involved with local shelters? Please share your success stories with us on Facebook.