An Open Letter to MCAS Volunteers

An open letter to the Multnomah County Animal Services volunteer community from Chair Jessica Vega Pederson and Animal Services Director Erin Grahek

To members of our MCAS volunteer community

We reach out to you today in gratitude and appreciation for your commitment to Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS) during a difficult time in the life of our shelter. As Chair of Multnomah County and Director of Animal Services, we know that our volunteers, both as individuals and as a group, do not take your service with the shelter lightly. You give your time and energy to the animals in our care because of your love for them and your desire to make sure they get the care and attention they deserve. This is a generous and valuable gift to our community that we do not take for granted. 

On January 3 — Chair Vega Pederson’s first day in office — MCAS had reached a point where it had taken in so many animals over the holidays that we would need a surge of resources and support, along with a temporary pause in shelter intakes, to ensure the animals in our custody received the care they needed. Under the Chair’s direction, the County immediately deployed emergency management personnel to the shelter, authorized a one-week pause in taking in stray dogs, and worked to reopen the shelter to the public for the first time in three years on January 11. 

Thanks to a tremendous community response that included more than 600 volunteer hours in January, we successfully reduced the number of animals in our care. More than 100 animals were adopted that month alone. 

Still, long-standing challenges remain at Animal Services, and we are determined to uncover and address the roots of these issues. Last month we announced the details of a five-month review process that will comb through previous audits to uncover which recommendations have and haven’t been implemented. We will also create space for robust community engagement with partner organizations, shelter and foster volunteers like you, and previous adopters, as well as past and present staff, to inform a report to the Board of County Commissioners that will include a plan for moving forward the outstanding recommendations identified during the review.

We want you to know that we see and are deeply grateful for your dedication, compassion, and care. Our shelter would not be able to serve our community as effectively or provide the animals in our custody with the care and attention they need without you. 

Shelter leadership and the Chair’s team look forward to working closely with you in the coming months. There will also be opportunities for you to provide your direct input and voice to our process as we conduct the comprehensive review of MCAS and shelter services. We hope you will join us on this journey to transform Multnomah County Animal Services into the program our community deserves. 



Chair Jessica Vega Pederson 

Erin Grahek, Director, Multnomah County Animal Services



Shelter Care
Chair Jessica Vega Pederson (right) with the Pitties in Pink float at the 2019 Pride Parade, featuring volunteer Molly (left) and canine ambassador Hamilton (center)

Motoya Nakamura

Chair Jessica Vega Pederson (right) with the Pitties in Pink float at the 2019 Pride Parade, featuring volunteer Molly (left) and canine ambassador Hamilton (center)
Chair Jessica Vega Pederson visits with a dog in a kennel at MCAS

Motoya Nakamura

Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson visits MCAS adoption kennels
MCAS Director Erin Grahek
MCAS Director Erin Grahek