Culture shift at St. Louis County Pet Adoption Center puts greater focus on adoption

OLIVETTE, Mo. - More animals are being saved and adopted at the St. Louis County Pet Adoption Center. Last month alone, the facility had a 97 percent live release rate - it's best ever.

One of St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger's initiatives when he took office was to change the trend where an animal only had a 50-50 chance of leaving the shelter alive.

"We wanted to change it from what we had been focused on-animal control-to animal adoption, which is what we have done," Stenger said.

In December 2016, the pet adoption rate was just 66 percent, meaning 34 percent of animals were euthanized. Last year, the number of pets euthanized dropped to 22 percent. Since Dr. Beth Vesco-Mock took over as director of the animal control center in September 2017, the euthanasia rate went down to 11 percent.

"We made a culture change here from a culture of keeping them comfortable until they were euthanized, to keeping them comfortable until they find a home," Vesco-Mock said.

They have amped up their efforts to engage their partners through adoptions, returning back to owners and rescue partners throughout the state.

"We view our animals as our friends and treat them humanely," Vesco-Mock said. "We want to see them leave the shelter and go to their forever homes and go to homes where people care about them."

At present, the St. Louis County Pet Adoption Center has 130 dogs and 80 cats available for adoption.

"We just worked hard. Looked at every animal," Vesco-Mock said. "Look at all avenues there could be to get an animal out alive and there's lots of ways to do it."

Vesco-Mock said when people come check all their animals to try not to come with a preconceived idea of what you are getting.

"Look in their eye and see which one connects with you and make sure the whole family is engaged to take on a new family member," she said.