Frequently Asked Question about Friends of the Animal Shelter
The purpose of this page is to post current information about Friends of the Animal Shelter and our partnership with Jackson County Animal Services. The information below is current as of 4/21/23. We will update this page as needed.
What is the difference between Friends of the Animal Shelter (FOTAS), Jackson County Animal Services (JCAS), and Southern Oregon Humane Society (SoHumane)?
All three organizations serve homeless animals in Jackson County.
Friends of the Animal Shelter (FOTAS) is a non-profit organization that was formed in 1991 to help the animals housed at the Jackson County Animal Shelter (JCAS), which is located on Hwy 99, between Talent and Phoenix. FOTAS and JCAS are two separate, distinct entities. FOTAS provides hundreds of trained volunteers at the Shelter to work directly with the animals, as well as subsidized funding, such as reduced-fee adoptions: Cat/Kitten 2-Fur-1; older animals, etc. The animals are the “property” of JCAS, not FOTAS, and most of the animals are strays, with some surrendered animals.
The FOTAS office is currently housed in the Shelter, but will be moving its administrative office to north Ashland in June, due to space constraints at the Shelter (new staff, etc.). There is always a FOTAS staff member on-site at the Shelter to support our many trained volunteers working with dogs and cats.
SoHumane is a non-profit shelter located on Tablerock Road in Medford. They accept owner-surrendered dogs and cats, as well as transfers dogs from other rescue organizations, including JCAS. SoHumane has their own volunteer program and in-house veterinarian.
What financial and volunteer support have you provided JCAS with throughout the years?
The most valuable resource FOTAS provides to JCAS is its trained volunteers, who are crucial to the wellbeing of the animals while at the shelter. Additionally, volunteers open their homes as foster parents to shelter animals. In 2022, more than 400 cats and dogs spent time in a loving FOTAS foster home for a variety of reasons: (1) animals experiencing kennel stress, (2) animals too young to be spayed/neutered, and (3) animals recovering from injuries/surgeries. Fostering saves lives!
Each year, 200+ FOTAS volunteers donate an average (pre-COVID) of 50,000 hours of their time to supporting JCAS animals. Based on a recent study, this is the equivalent of 11 full-time employees, which saves Jackson County a significant amount in staffing costs.
Throughout the years, FOTAS has also provided significant financial support to JCAS. From 2011 to 2022, FOTAS donated more than $347,000 for animal medical expenses alone. FOTAS also raises funds to provide supplies, food, and to subsidize low-cost adoption events.
How is FOTAS currently supporting JCAS?
FOTAS continues to have a robust volunteer and foster program that supports shelter animals. In 2022, more than 400 animals went to FOTAS foster homes while they waited to find their forever home. Approximately 25 volunteers are onsite daily (with the exception of Mondays, currently) providing enrichment for the dogs and cats.
FOTAS is also underwriting the 2023 “Kitten Season” by funding the costs associated with the spay/neuter surgeries, supplies, vaccinations, and medical testing of the hundreds of kittens who are surrendered to the shelter. The kittens reside with FOTAS foster families until they are old enough for spay/neuter, and then, adoption. Please donate to support our efforts by sponsoring a kitten.
In addition, FOTAS continues to provide and fund publicity and outreach support to help animals move from the Shelter into loving homes faster.
The population of dogs at the Shelter has increased dramatically over the past two years. FOTAS continues to need volunteers to walk dogs (most of which are large-breed), and take care of cats. Sign up to become a volunteer!
I’ve been hearing/reading/watching some negative things about the relationship between FOTAS and JCAS. What’s it all about?
Since 1991, FOTAS has provided trained volunteers and subsidized funding to JCAS in a cooperative and collaborative relationship.
In mid-2022, the County had a change of leadership at Health and Human Services (HHS) (which oversees JCAS), who began a feasibility study to determine the cost of operating the shelter, with an eye to potentially building a new, modern shelter. All of this is good news. However, this new leadership implemented some new policies which FOTAS leadership and volunteers do not feel are in the animals’ best interest, such as not allowing volunteers on-site on Mondays. FOTAS continues to urge HHS and County leadership to reevaluate those changes for the well-being of the shelter animals.
How else does FOTAS support the animals in our community?
Over time, FOTAS has expanded into the community with the Working Cats Program (fixing and relocating feral cats), and The Street Dogs Program, serving pets of homeless and low-income residents. (The Street Dogs Program is now its own non-profit organization).
FOTAS has a deep commitment to enabling dogs and cats in our community to get spayed/neutered in order to address the pet overpopulation crisis. In an effort to assist other animal welfare organizations in Southern Oregon, FOTAS launched its Community Partner Spay/Neuter Grants opportunity in 2022, made possible thanks to a generous donation made by the Barbara Roastingear and Henry Oliver Family Foundation and our many donors to that fund. FOTAS invites our community partners to apply for grant funding to help cover their costs associated with spaying/neutering dogs and cats in their care. To date, more than $40,000 in grant awards has been distributed and more than 200 animals have been spayed/neutered thanks to this support.
During Kitten Season, FOTAS is partnering with other feline-rescue nonprofit organizations in our community to help an even greater number of cats/kittens by providing these organizations with foster families and medical and spay/neuter support. Because the county is not mandated to intake felines, FOTAS will always be here to look for ways to provide services to cats in our community.
In 2023, FOTAS moved the monthly Low-cost Vaccination and Microchip Clinic off of the Shelter site and expanded our offerings to neighboring counties. (By appointment only: www.calendly.com/fotas.) Vaccinations help keep animals healthy. Dogs must be licensed by the time they reach 6 months, and need a rabies vaccination to obtain a license from JCAS. And microchips make it easier to get pets back home, avoiding the Shelter completely. Costs: $20 rabies; $20 distemper/parvo/upper respiratory combo; $25 microchip with life-time membership.
What are FOTAS’ plans for the future?
FOTAS was originally formed in 1991 to support the programs and animals at the JCAS.
FOTAS endeavors to always have a trained volunteer presence at the Shelter to provide much-needed enrichment and socialization to the animals residing there, as well as recruiting and supporting our large network of foster families who are instrumental in bettering animals’ lives while they wait for their forever home.
As our relationship with JCAS and HHS continues to evolve, FOTAS is looking toward the future and how we can further help more animals in our community. To that end, we have begun developing a business plan to build and operate a low-cost community spay/neuter clinic for both cats and dogs. Stay tuned!
In addition, we recently formed an Education Committee to develop community education and outreach programs to better inform the public about the importance of spay/neuter, humane treatment of animals, and bite prevention.
Friends of the Animal Shelter is a strong organization that treats its volunteers with love and respect, and manages donations well – all in service to the animals in our care.
Is JCAS considered to be a “no-kill” shelter?
Please visit the JCAS website for this information.
How long does JCAS keep a dog before it’s “put it down”?
JCAS makes efforts to reunite stray animal with their owners. Strays are listed on the County website, and if they have ID (tags or microchipped), JCAS attempts to reach the owners.
After a prescribed period of time (see website above), animals are evaluated for adoptability. Dogs and cats are not euthanized due to time or space constraints. However, if a dog demonstrates aggression towards people and poses a bite risk, or is extremely sick/injured and are suffering, they may be euthanized at the discretion of JCAS staff. FOTAS has no say in the outcome of any animal residing at the shelter.
Why does JCAS have so few cats lately?
JCAS is mandated by the state of Oregon to take all stray dogs that come through its doors; there is no such mandate for cats and therefore they do not have to accept cats. Because JCAS is currently consistently at capacity with dogs, all of their resources are directed towards the care and feeding of dogs. JCAS therefore limits the number of cats they will accept, and those that they do accept must be deemed friendly and are already spayed/neutered because JCAS has limited access to spay/neuter services.
Because FOTAS is underwriting Kitten Season this year, you can expect to see spayed/neutered kittens available for adoption starting in June.
Does JCAS provide free or low-cost spay/neuter services?
No. JCAS is a spay/neuter-before-adoption facility, but only for their animals. Free or low-cost spay/neuter, for cats only, is available from SNYP in Talent (www.spayneuter.org). And Facebook rehoming pages have a few local resources for TNR (trap/neuter/return). Your veterinarian may also be able to help or provide additional recommendations.
There is a colony of feral cats near my house. Can I catch them and bring them to JCAS?
JCAS is currently accepting only fixed and friendly cats. They do not accept feral cats. We suggest reaching out to the FOTAS Working Cat Program volunteers to help relocate the cats (www.fotas.org/working-cats; email).
FOTAS has begun developing a business plan to build and operate a low-cost community spay/neuter clinic for both cats and dogs to serve our community.
Why does JCAS no longer have [rabbits/guinea pigs/etc.]?
JCAS only accepts cats and dogs, as access to spay/neuter services for other species became too difficult and expensive to obtain.
My dog/cat died and I have a lot of [food/toys/beds] to donate. Where do I bring those?
Please email the FOTAS office to discuss donations of animal supplies.
Who do I contact if I have more questions about FOTAS?
Please email Sky Loos, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who do I contact if I more questions about JCAS?
Please email Kim Casey, Shelter Program Manager.
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