ROCKFORD - Winnebago County Animal Services currently is facing elevated euthanasia rates and long lengths of stay for pets.
These issues are similar to the ones the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin was facing when former director Brett Frazier took over the Rock County shelter in 2013. Frazier started his new job as Winnebago County Animal Services Administrator in mid-August.
According to the Winnebago County Animal Services 2017 Annual Report, the shelter had a 24 percent euthanasia rate for dogs and a 62 percent euthanasia rate for cats in 2017.
In 2013, the humane society was euthanizing about 500 animals every year, or about 28 percent. During that time more than half the cats coming through the shelter were put down. According to the 2017 Annual Report for the Southern Wisconsin Humane Society, based in Janesville, the euthanasia rate for dogs was 6.04 percent, and for cats it was 9.91 percent. The humane society has about doubled the amount of animals it's been seeing in the last four years. The humane society's average length of stay decreased from 17.1 days for all species in 2016 to 13.3 days in 2017.
As Frazier transitions into his new position he hopes to implement the humane society's systems over the border.
"It's an opportunity to do it again," Frazier said. "It's an opportunity to implement those systems and protocols and make a difference in Winnebago County the same way we did in Rock County."
Frazier said his overall goal at his new animal shelter is to improve overall effectiveness of operations.
"It's the same basic mission (at both shelters): we're trying to make sure the animals aren't in bad positions, making sure they have good outcomes," Frazier said. "The trick is the same here as it is there. It's developing systems to help us meet that mission."
Frazier said his strategy is to get better every day.
Thought the operational metrics of effectiveness are similar, he said the two shelters aren't completely the same. Since his new role is within a government organization, there are new responsibilities Frazier didn't have at the nonprofit organization in Janesville. For example, he now oversees Animal Services officers who will conduct cruelty investigations.
"There's a bit of a learning curve, but it helps to have a background in government," Frazier said.
Frazier previously served as the Town of Milton's mayor and worked two years with the Oregon, Illinois Area Chamber of Commerce.
He's currently having an assessment conducted by colleagues from UW Veterinary Care, who will provide recommendations on how to improve the shelter. He's also developing next fiscal year's budget, which begins in October.
"I'm really grateful for the time and support at the humane society," Frazier said. "What's important for folks to remember is there's an incredible team in place that knows how to go about the business of helping save pet's lives. I'm confident that machine will continue running."
The Winnebago County Board approved Frazier's hiring in mid-July.