MCAS Changes Updates - January to May 2023

Learn about progress MCAS is making for the official review requested by Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson. 


Official MCAS Review Site




Animal Care

Restructure of Animal Care Unit

Rounds Review Updates

Enrichment Updates

Animal Health

Field Services

Client Services

Overarching/ Management / Administration / Facilities

Capacity Calculations


Index of Phase 1 Review Recommendations


When Chair Vega Pederson initiated the review of Multnomah County Animal Services, it was with the commitment that improvements and changes would not wait for completion of the review process. Rather, Animal Services would continue to address issues in operations, making real time improvements. This document has been prepared to capture changes and improvements made since January 1, 2023 through June 1, 2023. MCAS will continue to document changes and update this document, quarterly, or as needed.

Animal Care

Restructure of Animal Care Unit

Reorganized Supervisory Reporting Structure And Task Orientation

Work is now sorted by “front of the house,” meaning admissions functions, adoptions functions, and the animal health team. Staff now report to one animal care supervisor for “back of the house” functions, which include kennel cleaning, feeding and enrichment activities.

Task Assignments by Function

Animal Care has duties based on their “role” or team assignment within the schedule, for example Paw Patrol, enrichment, or pet support.

Scheduled / task blocks

Animal Care’s duties are based on the expectation of a team assignment, versus individual daily assignments. When a specific call or request is made from Animal Care, the call now goes out for the function and not for the individual. 

Example: The task of “Pet Support” has a list of duties that are consistent each day. One of those tasks might be assisting with donations gathering and documentation. If support is needed in this task area, the radio call would go out for “Pet Support at the front desk”. 

Previously, all tasks were written out on the schedule, and if no one was assigned then the task was not reliably completed. In addition, staff were calling for specific individuals that they knew would respond to the request. The updated procedure provides more accountability for the teams providing support functions.

Dog-to-Dog Meets and Playgroups

We are continuously working to increase the skills of staff to allow for playgroups whenever possible. We plan to grow and expand this program to try to get every dog as close to the playgroup as possible, as well as working toward an established schedule.

Almost all of the back of house Animal Care staff are now able to do dog-to-dog meets. 

Specialized Programs

Temp employees have been added to Support Animal Care, specifically administrative support to the Foster Coordinator and the Volunteer Coordinator.

Volunteer Program

We are exploring improved technology solutions to manage the volunteer program.

Animal Services conducted a volunteer appreciation event on May 20, 2023.

Rounds Review Updates

The rounds review process was updated to include clear notes at each meeting that allow for consistency and understanding on next steps. Additionally, implementation of the rounds review functionality in Shelter Buddy has provided a clear understanding of which pets are reviewed each day. Previously, notes were not taken, which caused confusion and misunderstanding on next steps. 

Rounds review times were also shifted from the afternoon to the morning, which allows for action items to be completed on the same day. There is now a dedicated leader and note taker, which, in addition to the use of the Shelter Buddy rounds review functionality, ensures notes are entered and information is not lost or forgotten.

Enrichment Updates

Feline Specialist Changed to Pathway and Enrichment Specialist

The Feline Care Specialist position was changed to a Pathway and Enrichment Specialist for all pets. The goal of this change is to allow for faster workflow and decision making regarding enrichment for pets in the shelter and foster pets.

Enrichment Board Added for Canine Intake

A whiteboard has been added in the canine intake area to document enrichment activities.

Modified Procedures for More Efficient Cleaning and Feeding

Animal Care staff schedules were altered to allow more support in the morning for cleaning. 

Per recommendations from Dogs Play For Life (DPFL), cleaning now starts with the outside kennel sections, and then the interior sections. Staff now set kennels up with food and enrichment items when they come back to the inside. Previously, animals were fed and then placed outside during cleaning.

This approach has multiple advantages to help alleviate stress:

  • Dogs no longer go outside first thing in the morning when it is still dark and cold, and are instead going outside later when it is a little warmer and brighter. 
  • Dogs are not placed outside with any urine or feces in the outdoor kennel section from the previous night.
  • The indoor kennel portion is arranged with enrichment and food when dogs return from the outside. 
  • Feeding is no longer rushed, and dogs can eat at their own pace.

Kitten protocols

Staff meet twice a week for cat intake protocols for clearer, more uniform, and streamlined work. The intake policy was updated and we met with each unit to ensure understanding of the policy.

Increased roles for volunteers

Roles for volunteers were increased to include the following:

  • Staffing of the Information Desk
  • Kennel cleaning duties

Transfer, Foster, and Volunteer Onboarding

Procedures were updated to provide clearer communication about the expectations of these programs. While this is still an ongoing process, we are looking at the information we provide during the onboarding of these programs. We aim to set clear expectations up front to be able to hold foster volunteers accountable should they step out of those expectations in the future.

Animal Health

Oregon Humane Added as Veterinary Services Voucher Partner

In response to critical veterinary staff vacancies, MCAS is contracting with veterinary service providers in the community to provide spay/neuter and vaccination services to adopted pets as needed. OHS was added as a provider in early 2023, and their scheduling capacity to efficiently serve recent adopters is significant. MCAS is arranging to perform many needed services pre-adoption via transport to and from the OHS Community Veterinary Hospital. Services will include pre-adoption spay and neuter.

MCAS is prioritizing the surgery schedule to focus on population control, making female cats, dogs and rabbits a priority. We are performing in-house surgery for animals who have rescue or transfer options once altered.

Volunteers and foster parents are being asked to participate in a foster kitten vaccine clinic to help administer treatments to kittens in our care and to relieve the burden on animal health staff.

To provide more veterinary coverage Thursdays-Sundays, we are utilizing and expanding the pool of relief veterinarians.

Field Services

Bite Quarantine updates

Changes to the home quarantine policy to match state requirements - Specifically, home quarantine will no longer be allowed if the bites inflicted were severe in nature, the pet was at large/loose when the bite occurred, the pet had previously been classified as potentially dangerous or is not current on rabies vaccination.

Protective Custody Cases

Procedures have been implemented to make communications to the public clearer. This includes development of a template that is used by field officers to communicate the status of protective custody cases and next steps. This updated procedure will also result in improved due process for pet owners as well as clarity about decision making related to notice of infraction.

Client Services

Opened the Building to In-person Adoptions

In-person adoption services resumed on January 11, 2023. Through the pandemic, all adoptions were screened through an online application process and phone consultations. 

ID Trace Procedure Updates

A uniform policy for all staff to follow when utilizing ID trace to identify pets with unknown owners was implemented. ie. number of attempts and number of days. 

Phone Tree Updates

MCAS is working with County telecom/IT to activate improved prompts in our call system so that clients may have a better experience and direct calls to the appropriate staff more efficiently. 

Overarching/ Management / Administration / Facilities

Centralized Intranet Hub for Policies, Procedures, and Communications

An intranet site for MCAS staff has been created for centralized communications, policies, procedures, and training materials. It is now in the process of set up, training, and implementation. 

Radio Communications

MCAS purchased new radios, provided training, and is consistently using the radios. Radios are now used by all management, line staff, and volunteers to manage the flow of work, communication regarding need for assistance, and emergency response.

Leadership Meeting structures

The schedule of leadership meetings was readjusted to bi-weekly, and the structure was updated to focus on overall updates with breakout meetings that occur based on information and need. This provides a better structure that is more about in the moment communication instead of waiting to discuss at a fixed point in time. Previously, all concerns and problems were only brought up at the appointed time at a leadership meeting.

Capacity Calculations

MCAS started the baseline capacity calculations to have a clear understanding of when MCAS was “in trouble” with space. The goal is to further expand this into a set up with clearer calculations (ex: red, yellow, green) that help determine the actions MCAS takes.

Staffing Study

Based on the established shelter capacity, we evaluated average daily population trends from CY 2022, and utilized formulas and recommendations from the National Animal Care & Control Association and regional partners. MCAS conducted a staffing study to meet national recommendations for cleaning and feeding:

Staffing Study Summary

Wait-while Check in and Appointment Management System

Waitwhile is a specialized scheduling software that assists MCAS in adoptions support and volunteer and other appointments. The software provides virtual waitlist and queue management. It is now in the process of set up, training, and implementation. 

Security onsite

An on-site security guard was added for safety, and to set clear expectations for handling persons of interest.

Improved Grounds/Plantings

Improvements have been made to the physical site, including:

  • Pea gravel in the play yard 
  • Improved groundskeeping 
  • Fresh paint 
  • New signage either in place or on order 
  • Temporary coverings over outdoor dog kennels to protect from inclement weather 
  • Roll down screens on front of south facing outdoor kennels to protect from heat and sun exposure 
  • Restriped parking lots
  • Purchase of a new forklift
  • Purchase of a speaker system that will support auditory enrichment for all pets in care. This will be linked to a computer program that will have a variety of options including music and reading aloud. This is currently pending installation

Storage Modifications and Changes

The following changes have been implemented for storage:

  • Meal Prep room improvements, paint, storage supplies, and a new freezer
  • Addition of sheds for more efficient storage

Index of Phase 1 Review Recommendations

Audit Recommendations - Partially complete or incomplete

Dogs Playing for Life Recommendations (Partial or Incomplete)

Field Services
Shelter Care
A dog peers through a kennel at Multnomah County Animal Services

Motoya Nakamura