PORTLAND, Ore. - Nearly 225 pets are safe in new homes following the busiest weekend in the Oregon Humane Society's 141-year non-profit history.
The public adopted 224 animals Dec. 11 to Dec. 13, double the number usually adopted and well above the previous record of 192 pets going home over a similar three-day period in November 2007. More than 80 dogs rescued last week from Harney and Tillamook counties found new homes, as did 86 cats and kittens, seven rabbits, four birds and one Guinea pig.
"The public's response to two huge animal rescues last week has been nothing short of overwhelming," reports an OHS press release. "The shelter's storage areas have been overflowing with donated pet food while shelter staff have been working overtime to keep up with the public's demand to adopt the neglected dogs."
After taking in at least 200 dogs in one week during Oregon's stretch of freezing weather, Humane Society Spokesperson David Lytle put out a call for donations last week. The response was another record: so many donations that OHS has asked the public to stop bringing in the dog food, towels and shredded paper original requested.
"We are grateful for all the donations so far, as we rely entirely on private contributions for everything we do here," said Humane Society Executive Director Sharon Harmon in a prepared statement. The two rescues last week reportedly could cost OHS, which gets no support from national humane organizations, more than $150,000.
OHS is still in need of large dog crates, dog toys, wet cat food, laundry soap, bleach and monetary donations. The society is accepting donations at its 1067 N.E. Columbia Blvd. shelter in Portland.
More than two dozen rescued dogs from Tillamook and Harney Counties are available for adoption today at OHS, with more becoming be available as their medical condition permits. Pictures and profiles of rescued animals available for adoption.
The Harney County Sheriff’s department arrested three people on animal neglect charges in connection with the two massive rescued referenced above. In that process keepers surrender ownership of the animals, allowing the Humane Society to move in for the rescue process.
These animal neglect arrests are not unusual in Oregon. The Animal Legal Defense Fund reports that, out of all 50 states and other U.S. territories, Oregon law ranks among the top five toughest animal protection laws. It's joined by California, Illinois, Maine, and Michigan as the top five states "where animal law has real teeth," reports Lisa Franzetta at the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Fund workers say they pored through 3,800 pages of statutes and tracked 14 distinct categories of provisions to come to this conclusion. They rank Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Dakota as the five "best states to be an animal abuser."
Oregon has enhanced penalties for repeat animal abusers, and enhanced penalties when the abuse is committed in the presence of a minor child. It has mandatory bans on the ownership of animals for abusers, and applies many of its protections to almost all pets - no matter what type of animal.
Additionally, Oregon veterinarians are required to report cases of suspected aggravated animal cruelty, and the court may order counseling for animal abusers. The report said Oregon's law is weak in two areas:
- It does not include mandatory terms of incarceration for certain offenders and
- It does not include mandatory forfeiture of animals following a conviction.
"This year we see many states and territories that are continuing to make outstanding progress with their laws. Unfortunately, there are still many places where the laws are incapable of providing the legal protections that our country's animals need and deserve," says Stephan Otto, the fund's director of legislative affairs and author of the report.
"Even in those jurisdictions like Oregon, that have some of today's best laws, there remain many opportunities for improvement," said Stephan Otto, Animal Legal Defense Fund's director of legislative affairs and author of the report."