Published: Oct 12, 2011 2:10 AM EDT
Updated: Oct 12, 2011 3:36 AM EDT

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- Just over 6,000 animals came through the doors at Collier County Domestic Animal Services last year. That's down seven percent from the year before.
"What we're seeing in a six year trend is a decrease in animal intake which indicates to us that people are really taking pet ownership seriously," said Department Director Amanda Townsend.
About half of the animals brought in are surrendered by their owners.. the other half are picked up as strays.
The biggest dip was in cats, down 14 percent over last year.
For the nearly 6,600 animals that came in in 2009, DAS had a budget of $306 per pet to keep their entire operation running.
But after last year's budget cuts, that amount dropped to $282 per animal.
"We are a $3 million operation here at DAS that's administration as well as enforcement, veterinary clinic, community outreach and animal sheltering so it takes a lot to do what we do," Townsend continued.
Now facing a 20 percent budget slash for the new year, Townsend says having fewer animals in DAS custody makes it easier to do more with less.
"The less animals we have the more resources we can put towards each one," she said.
DAS officials say there's no way to pinpoint why intake has dipped, but credit local spay and -neuter programs as having an impact.
"Nationally its recognized that access to free pet spay and neuter is a solution to pet overpopulation and we're seeing it work right here in Collier county," Townsend explained.
On October 18th the DAS board will hold a public workshop at the facility to create a top 10 list of needs for the department to tackle.