Multnomah County Animal Services: Audited to Death

Multnomah County Animal Services in Oregon has a long and troubled history. A county audit in 2016 found that records were severely lacking, including intake and outcome information on thousands of animals and the use of euthanasia drugs. Other serious problems included insufficient staff to properly feed, clean and exercise animals, staff not trained to provide essential animal care, adopters not being advised of an animal’s bite history, housing prey animals such as birds and rabbits within sight of cats, turning away pets despite being an open admission facility and having space available, leaving dogs and cats in intake for weeks without social enrichment or exercise, and astonishingly, the absence of a daily rounds program. In 2018, a follow up audit found that most of these issues had been addressed only partially or not at all.

Three images from the Multnomah County Auditor’s Office’s 2016 review of the public animal shelter.

A news story published this week cites half a dozen current and former shelter staff members and volunteers who all say basically the same thing: the problems remain.

“How these dogs are being treated, it’s inhumane, it’s torture,” said Kayla Popper, who quit her job as an animal care technician in November after a year working at the shelter. “The dogs aren’t getting their needs met, they aren’t in a healthy environment.”

The shelter’s annual budget is $12.7 million with roughly $250,000 of that going to pay the combined salaries of the director and the operations manager. Both were hired in the second half of 2022.

However, two current volunteers who asked to remain anonymous because they feared repercussions said they hadn’t seen meaningful improvements in animal care under the new management. They said that just a few weeks ago, dogs were being housed in concrete kennels without beds, even though the division had dog beds in storage that just needed to be put together.


“It’s a s—show out there,” one volunteer said. “I can’t think of any aspect of it that’s running the way it’s supposed to.”

Workers also allege that most of the dogs are drugged to make them seem less kennel crazy and/or on antibiotics due to viruses and that staff throw pills into cages, not checking to see if the dogs eat them or if they dissolve on the wet concrete. Who the fuck acts like that?

To make matters worse, the shelter stopped doing in-person adoptions at the start of the pandemic and only resumed them yesterday. Adoption fees are currently being waived, which is great, but a glance at the Multnomah County shelter’s website indicates a stranglehold on the adoption process. While the shelter is open every day, the actual hours amount to approximately 6 per day with adoption counseling ending one hour before closing, effectively giving the public roughly 5 daytime hours to adopt and no evening hours. In addition, adopters are restricted to a maximum of ten minutes while visiting with a potential family member and can not meet more than 3 pets a day. WHY??????

Volunteers expressed hope that once the management has a chance to “settle in,” conditions will improve. Yeah, no. If the meet and greet area needs a new coat of paint, that’s fine to wait until management is settled in. But feeding, walking and medicating animals? Those are day one, hour one priorities. You don’t settle in while animals you’re being paid six figures to shelter are suffering. You get your ass out there on daily rounds, leash in hand, and start cracking the whip.

Readers may be pleased/horrified to know that the Multnomah County Chair has called for… a review of the shelter.

2 thoughts on “Multnomah County Animal Services: Audited to Death

  1. “Like” isn’t how I want to read t to this. I want to throw things at the shelter management.

Leave a Reply