Cat Town, in partnership with Oakland Animals Services and Friends of Oakland Animal Services, has been selected as one of seven organizations across the nation to compete for a finalist spot at the 2019 Innovation Showdown. Now, we need your vote so we can pitch our lifesaving idea to a panel of investors — for a chance at $450,000 in funding!
As you may know, I started Cat Town while I was a volunteer at Oakland Animal Services (OAS), after recognizing that the shelter is made up of good and compassionate people, who lack the resources they need, and are operating in a broken system.
Cat Town started with a vision for a completely different approach to helping the cats who were being overlooked by potential adopters and shelter transfer partners. Eight years later, we’ve helped reduce the euthanasia rate at the shelter by 70 percent, and are recognized for having created a new model for helping the hardest-to-place cats. But we are still operating in reaction to a problem, rather than getting out in front of it.
In an ongoing conversation with our partners at OAS we’ve identified three key issues that could be addressed to solve this crisis:
Many people who bring their animals to the shelter don’t want to do so. Often, families surrender their pets due to some stressful hardship, and with a little support, would be able to keep their pets.
By the time people arrive at the shelter, it is often too late to provide intervention. Whether faced with eviction, trying to correct a stressful behavior without guidance, or dealing with complicated medical needs, many people struggle to know how to help their pets. They wait until the last minute to surrender, and by then they’ve either steeled themselves to get through the process or have simply run out of time to try a different approach. This often makes it impossible to offer the kind of support that could keep pets and families together.
Once animals are in the shelter, it is nearly impossible to know who they are, since we just see their reaction to being in that stressful environment. At Cat Town, we know the shelter can be a scary place for animals — and that fear can change their behavior.
What if we could meet these animals in their homes, before they arrive at the shelter, when they’re at their very best?
Through our partnership with OAS, we came up with the idea for HomeAdopt to proactively provide hands-on intervention to allow people to keep their cats or dogs, or to help them find new homes for their animals without them ever coming to the shelter.
With the Innovation Showdown, we have an opportunity to compete for a $450,000 grant that would provide start-up funding for a two-year pilot program, with the longer term goal providing more resources to help animals while they are still in their home, rather than reacting to a crisis when they come to the shelter.
If this project is funded, it would operate in parallel with Cat Town, without impacting our mission or capacity to continue to help the cats who need us most.
I hope we can count on your vote to offer every Oakland animal in need the same support we give to our own pets, and to the cats we help every day!