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Riverside County Department of Animal Services welcomed experts to kick off the 5,000 Cat Challenge

Large group of participants seated in rows of tables, listening to lecture. There are small plush figures of cats scattered on the tables.

January 23, 2024

 Riverside County Department of Animal Services (RCDAS) hosted a panel discussion on Monday Jan. 22 featuring three national experts in community and shelter cat and kitten management. The event was held at the Western Riverside County shelter, located at 6581 Van Buren Blvd. in Jurupa Valley. 

The panel, featuring television star and cat behavior expert Jackson Galaxy; and world renowned cat experts Dr. Julie Levy, distinguished Professor of Shelter Medicine at the University of Florida and Program Director of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, Dr. Kate Hurley addressed cat rescue and Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) groups, as well as cat volunteers and foster caregivers. 

“In 2023, the Riverside shelters had one of the highest cat and kitten intakes in the nation. This year, we’re happy that the Department of Animal Services is inviting the community to help save 5,000 cat and kitten lives,” said Dr. Hurley. 

Of note: 

  • The Department experienced the highest intake of cats in the nation in 2023 with a live release rate of 51 percent. 
  • In June of 2023 Riverside began the pet support program which has helped save more than 4,000 animals from the shelter, two-thirds of which were cats. 
  • The community can help by growing in the community cat program, trap neuter/spay release (TNR/SNR) adoption, foster, kitten foster, and cat rescues. All will assist in improving the live release rate. 

The experts plan to visit the Jurupa Valley campus for three days to help the shelter and community cat advocates save 5,000 cats in 2024. The practices they recommend are based on the highly successful Million Cat Challenge, which has resulted in more than three million cats’ lives saved across the nation since 2014. 

“This opportunity stands to make a significant difference in the lives of cats in the community and entering the shelter system. I am grateful for this collaboration of experts to help us reach this goal,” said Erin Gettis, director, Riverside County Department of Animal Services. 

The invitation-only event was organized and moderated by Kristen Hassen of Outcomes for Pets Consulting, the organization that has been working with RCDAS since June 2023.