Columbus Georgia’s Animal Care Center’s Save-A-Pet Program Recognized as 2017 Harvard Ash Center Bright Idea in Government


Columbus, Georgia – The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recognized today Columbus Animal Care and Controls Save-A-Pet Program as part of the 2017 Bright Ideas in Government initiative. The Save-A-Pet program is part of a cohort that includes programs from all levels of government — school districts, county, city, state, federal agencies, and tribal nations, as well as public-private partnerships — that represent the next horizon in government work to improve services, solve problems, and work on behalf of citizens.

The Staff at Columbus Animal Care and Control has struggled with combating high euthanasia rates for years and to find impounded animals forever homes. The Center was overrun with an abundance of unwanted pets that were being euthanized constantly because of space availability. For years, the high euthanasia rate and low live release rates had become a commonplace issue. In 2010, the euthanasia rate was as high as 79% and had become a public issue, which the city had to address. In 2011, in order to combat the high euthanasia rate, the Mayor, Teresa Tomlinson, developed the Save A Pet Program and implemented it at the Center. This program encompasses a number of initiatives to include a comprehensive adoption program, involved local rescue groups and shelters, a bi-county pet coalition, offsite adoptions, a volunteer program, low cost spay neuter voucher program, and the Trap, Neuter & Release (TNR) program. These programs have been deemed successful by the Center and have systematically reduced the euthanasia rate from 79% in 2010 to 20% in 2016. All of these relationships with the different groups have fostered more than 7,144 animals being rescued by local rescues from 2014 — 2016. Another great asset nurturing the reduction of the euthanization rate was in applying for and receiving a Best Friends Animal Society Community Cat Grant for a comprehensive TNR Program. Because of the successfulness of these programs, the long term issue of overpopulation at the Animal Control Center is consistently being reduced collectively through government, private, and community organizations.

“These programs demonstrate that there are no prerequisites for doing the good work of governing” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Program at the Ash Center, “small towns and massive cities, huge federal agencies and local school districts, large budgets or no budgets at all — what makes government work best is the drive to do better, and this group proves that drive can be found anywhere.”

This is the fifth cohort recognized through the Bright Ideas program, an initiative of the broader Innovations in American Government Awards program. For consideration as a Bright Idea, programs must currently be in operation or in the process of launching, have sufficient operational resources, and must be administered by one or more governmental entities; nonprofit, private sector, and union initiatives are eligible if operating in partnership with a governmental organization. Bright Ideas are showcased on the Ash Center’s Government Innovators Network, an online platform for practitioners and policymakers to share innovative public policy solutions.
Please visit the Government Innovators Network at for the full list of Bright Ideas programs, and for more information regarding the Innovations in American Government Awards.

Categories: Georgia News