By Steve Large

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The cute videos are working.

Sacramento’s Front Street Animal Shelter is releasing more animals to forever homes than ever before.

Now the shelter needs more people.

Shelter Director Gina Knepp has asked for six new positions, including four animal care technicians to help with an increase in volume in the city’s animal shelter.

Knepp keeps the statistics for dog and cat releases from the shelter on her office door.

“So this chart that I keep on my door shows all of the cat and dog intakes since 1996,” Knepp said.

In 10 years, the Front Street Animal Shelter has improved its successful releases from 35 percent in 2007, to 53 percent in 2012, to 85 percent in 2017.

“Sheltering has changed, and community expectation has changed,” Knepp said.

In that time, Knepp has embraced the power of pictures.

The shelter’s social media presence is powerful. Video and photos on Facebook and Twitter have gone viral with one generating 35 million hits.

“People want to feel good, and so we try to make them feel good through our stories,” Knepp said.

Shelter staff creates pictures people can’t help but click.

“People like to be entertained and come on, a puppy with a bow tie on is pretty cute,” Knepp said.

This year Knepp also started using the app Nextdoor to post pictures of strays.

“And we’ve increased the return to owner ratio, 25 percent over what it was last year,” Knepp said. “Enormous improvement.”

Even with the success, there are always more animals.

“Every day, 30 to 60 animals,” Knepp said. “It’s been as high as 70, one of our record days.”

Now Knepp is asking city leaders for more people to care for more animals.

“We’ve got to have sufficient staff to be a contemporary shelter,” Knepp said.

The shelter is seeking new hires now that it’s found success creating clicks to find its cats and dogs new homes.

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