Stray animals are being reunited with their owners in Sylvan Lake at a higher rate than in any other part of the province, according to Jim deBoon, owner of Klassic Kennels animal shelter and boarding facility.
The return-to-owner rate for cats and dogs in Sylvan Lake is so high, in fact, that he feels Sylvan Lake may be leading the entire continent in numbers.
“I’m really safe in saying that Sylvan Lake has the highest return-to-owner rate that I think is possible in North America for dogs, and potentially we are either there or maybe tied for first in cats,” he said.
For dogs, that rate currently sits at 98 per cent for the year. For cats, it’s around 33 per cent — 48 per cent excluding ferals.
DeBoon has contacted other animal care agencies around the province, and has yet to find one with higher return-to-owner rates than Sylvan Lake.
He said the town has even surpassed Calgary, a place often considered to be a leader in the field. And unlike some facilities around the province, Klassic Kennels’ rates reflect every animal taken in.
“I account for any animal that comes in our facility, whether it’s alive, aggressive, sterile, injured, whatever,” said deBoon. “If it’s alive, we get it, if we have to put it down because it’s injured, it still counts as a euthanization for us. We don’t hide the fact that it was injured or was aggressive or whatever.”
The shelter’s high rates, he added, are a result of the “community collaboration” he says has been built during his 32 years of providing animal control services in the area.
“I think it’s the connection that we’ve built with the community, and I think it’s the support from the community that does it,” he said. “It’s also a mutual trust with the community, because they treat us well, and we try to treat them well.”
DeBoon will travel to Lake Louise for the 2014 Urban Animal Summit on Saturday (Oct. 25), where Klassic Kennels is one of two finalists nominated for the Sheltering Provider of the Year award.
The shelter — situated just north of Red Deer — spans nine municipalities in the region, including Sylvan Lake, Bentley, Lacombe and Delburne.
Funds generated through its pet boarding directly support its animal control services, according to deBoon.
“I started the boarding kennel because it helped pay for the animals that were unwanted and unclaimed,” he said. “I wanted to have control of the strays so that their outcomes weren’t out of my hands.”
More information on the shelter is available on the Klassic Kennels Facebook page.