Annual Reports

City of Great Falls Montana

Annual Report - Statistics
Fiscal Year 2013 – 2015

The Great Falls Animal Shelter is an open-admission, municipal animal shelter operated by the City of Great Falls, which provides a safe haven for stray, abandoned and owner surrendered animals. The Shelter serves the residents of Great Falls, Cascade County and surrounding areas.

The mission of the Shelter is to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the animals and citizens of our community through the education of responsible pet owners. The Shelter provides a number of services including animal protection, pet adoptions, cremation services for veterinarians and private citizens, as well as licensing and microchipping services. The Shelter also has volunteer opportunities and currently has over 200 volunteers that assist with the animals and other events and activities throughout the year.

The Shelter serves an average of 1,571 animals a year and collects data relating to the animals that enter the Shelter. This document provides a snapshot of the past three years. The Shelter’s goal is to be as transparent as possible regarding data, operations, policies, procedures, the services it provides and the animals the staff cares for each and every day.

Beginning in March 2015, the Shelter began providing statistical data based on a fiscal year time frame (July – June), in order to be consistent with the City’s financial reporting methods. Previously (prior to Fiscal Year 2015), the Shelter reported data on a calendar year basis (January-December). Older Shelter annual reports are still available online (data dates back to calendar year 2008). Those reviewing the data should distinguish the difference in reporting structure when making comparisons and reviewing the numbers.

Shelter SnapShot Fiscal Year 2013 through 2015

  • The Shelter has an annual average intake of 1,571 animals; with about 130 animals entering the facility each month.
  • The average number of animals adopted each year is 590.
  • On average 446 animals are reunited with their owners each year.
  • In Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, 68% of the animals entering the Shelter were returned to their owners, adopted or placed with a rescue organization.
  • In FY 2015, 65.5% of the animals entering the Shelter were reunited with their owners, adopted or placed with a rescue organization.
  • Over the past three years carry over numbers for Shelter pets have been increasing each year. This may be due to the fact that the Shelter is keeping pets for a longer period of time and has been operating as a low-kill Shelter.
  • The average Shelter stay for dogs is 18 and cats is 34 days. 

Lower Intake Numbers

Staff believes that the lower intake numbers may be attributed to a number of factors including:

  • All animals being adopted are spayed and neutered as part of the new adoption package (process is streamlined now)
  • Microchips are being sold at the Shelter – which helps with redemptions
  • The Volunteer Program helps monitor and maintain current lost/found cards
  • Shelter is selling more licenses in collaboration with local veterinarians
  • New philosophy regarding redemptions/lost animals – if a lost animal is brought to the Shelter by a concerned citizen and we have a lost/found card or can read the pet’s microchip; the individual who found the pet has the option of helping return the pet to the owner. The pet does not always have to enter the Shelter. This saves everyone time and money.

Health & Euthanasia

The Shelter operates as a low-kill shelter. Euthanasia rates decreased 26%, when comparing FY 2014 to FY 2013. At the end of FY 2015, the euthanasia rate at the Shelter was at 22.5%. This figure is often impacted by the overall Shelter intake numbers as well as the health of the animals coming into the Shelter. Staff believes that euthanasia rates will continue to decrease each year, as long as animals at the Shelter continue to stay healthy.

In reviewing euthanasia rates, three factors stand out. Since 2014, dogs and cats have rarely if ever been euthanized based on space, very few dogs have been euthanized unless absolutely necessary (aggressive, health issues or bite cases) and while the data shows cats make up the largest percentage of euthanasia cases, it’s primarily due to health/sickness issues and if a cat is considered feral and unable to be adopted.

Operations & Staffing

In February 2014, the City of Great Falls adopted a new fee structure for the Animal Shelter. The new Adoption Fee is $140 for dogs and $50 for cats. The adoption fee includes the cost of spaying/neutering, a microchip, vaccinations and a nametag. This new fee structure and having all animals leave the facility spayed and neutered has helped with adoptions at the Shelter.

The Shelter sells microchips to pet owners who may or may not have adopted at the Shelter. Staff also sells licenses to City residents and developed a pilot program to encourage local veterinarians to participate in selling licensing where they would receive a portion of the revenue from the sales each quarter.

The Shelter has continued to grow its social media presence on Facebook. Currently the Shelter has over 2,037 followers.

The Shelter Sidekicks, the Shelter’s Volunteer Program, continues to thrive in its third year of operation. With over 200+ volunteers, they continue to provide a valuable service to the Shelter and have helped develop and implement special events (Pet-A-Palooza, Murder Mystery Dinner, Fall Fantasy Dog Show), promotions and fundraisers. They assist in walking dogs, educational programs, and creating a positive image in the community. The Volunteer Program has now expanded to include youth (10 – 17 years of age). An adult must accompany those 10 – 14 years of age. Currently the youth program has 42 volunteers.

The Shelter developed a Foster Care Program to provide for the temporary care of animals not ready for adoption with the goal of helping reduce the City’s euthanasia rate. The program seeks to find forever homes for animals once they are ready for adoption. Foster caregivers get to participate in a rewarding experience that changes an animal’s life by providing them a second chance to find their forever home.

Help Us Grow Project

In FY 2014 staff began working on a new master plan for facility improvements, and during the summer of 2014 the Help Us Grow (HUG) Project kicked off to begin fundraising efforts for future improvements at the Shelter.  The goal of the HUG Project is to create a healthier and less stressful environment for Shelter pets.  The primary features of the project include a cattery addition, enhancements to the canine area and front office renovations. The cattery is the first funding priority of the HUG Project. Currently the balance for all fundraising efforts and donations related to the HUG Project is $302,557.74.