HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - It's an unusual situation at Huntsville Animal Services (HAS), and a very good one.
There are currently no cats in the towers of kennels kept in the front of the building.
The director says it's due to new approaches moving the facility closer to a 90% live release rate.
UPDATE: See No Kill Huntsville's response to the progress at Huntsville Animal Services. Click here: 102414 NKH Press Release Regarding Shelter Progress
Visitors to HAS may see the cat kennels after they walk through the front doors.
They are usually full, but on this day, all were empty.
Dr. Karen Sheppard says just 20 days ago, the cat population was out of control.
"Literally, we had more cats than we had kennels and we've recently gotten more kennels," said Dr. Sheppard. The success comes from changes at the shelter, including adopting cats with shots, neutering and other things, for five dollars each.
"It's become a very common trend," said Dr. Sheppard. "Shelters trying to motivate good pet owners, instead of getting one kitten, get three kittens."
Adoption rates and medical care for black dogs dropped to ten dollars each.
Dr. Sheppard said the moves went viral and she couldn't believe what occurred in 20 days.
"We've had 310 animals enter animal services. As of this moment, we've had 304 that have left alive."
The ideas came from a non-profit called Target Zero Institute, a consultation firm that paid a free visit to Huntsville recently. TZI staffers recommended facility changes to save as many lives as possible, but not likely 100%.
"Generally speaking, about ten percent of the animals that come into our animal services, euthanasia is the appropriate humane outcome for that animal and that's why it's 90 percent," said John Hamilton, Huntsville City Administrator. "It's not random. Some years it might be 91 percent, some years it may be 89 percent."
At the shelter, staffers moved the cats away from barking dogs and added openings between kennels so cats can interact and release stress, making them more adoptable.
Hamilton says the Huntsville City Council will be presented with an agreement to partner with TZI during its first council meeting in November. Being a non-profit, TZI does not charge for their services.