KENAI - The Kenai Animal Shelter scored a victory of sorts.
For the first time since the shelter opened, it adopted out more animals than it euthanized last year.
That doesn't mean that the shelter received fewer animals, said Patricia Stringer, chief animal control officer at the shelter.
According to the shelter's annual report, adoptions were up 52 percent in 2007, while euthanizations were down 19 percent. From the 1,837 animals handled last year, that breaks down to 781 animals finding new homes and 701 animals being euthanized. There also were 243 animals claimed by their owners during this time.
Brett Reid, an animal control officer at the shelter since 1983, said adoption numbers surpassing those of euthanasias for a calendar year is something he has waited for, for a long time.
"We've had months where it had happened, but this is the first time for a whole year we've been able to get ahead of it," he said.
As to the reason less dogs and cats are being euthanized, Stringer said it wasn't because any less animals came into the shelter in 2007. In fact, nine more animals were handled overall compared to 2006 and 70 more animals compared to 2005.
"The amount coming in hasn't significantly changed, it's what we do that has changed," she said.
The shelter now has a scanner and uses every time to scan for identification microchips embedded under the skin of dogs and cats. When pet owners keep up with providing their contact information to the microchip service, this can be an easy way of reuniting them with their lost pets, particularly since even those that have identification tags on their collars can slip out of them when they make their initial getaway.
The shelter staff also has started to do more networking with pet agencies to find pets homes.
"We're on Petfinder.com and update our site every Saturday," Stringer said, referring to an online database of homeless pets that nationally facilitated 10 million adoptions in the first 10 years it was operational.
The Kenai Animal Shelter also has its own home page and pet list on the site, and shelter animals have their own home pages with a description and usually a photograph. Reid said this Internet service has allowed shelter animals that were once living on death row to find homes not just outside the Kenai Peninsula, but outside Alaska as well.
"I just shipped out a Rottweiler to Skagway, and we've sent dogs to Vermont and Rhode Island. We've even had a guy fly up from Seattle to get a dog that he saw at our shelter on the site," he said.