Multco Kids

You've probably learned about government from your parents or at school, but how much do you know about Multnomah County? Multnomah County government affects your schools, your health, and even your pets!

You've probably learned about government from your parents or at school, but how much do you know about Multnomah County? Multnomah County government affects your schools, your health, and even your pets! There are six cities in Multnomah County – Fairview, Gresham, Maywood Park, Portland, Troutdale, and Wood Village. If you live in any of those cities, then you are a Multnomah County resident.

Multnomah County is both the smallest county in Oregon in size and the largest in population. It’s only 470 square miles, but over 725,000 people live here! Even though it is small, the county has a lot to offer. It is home to everything from the city of Portland to farms to Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge.

Learn about what other governments do:


County history

Multnomah County was created on December 22, 1854, five years before Oregon became a state. It was created by the Territorial Legislature because the people living in Portland found it difficult to travel to the Washington County seat of Hillsboro where they had to go to do county business, like paying taxes.

The county is named after the Multnomah Indians who were part of the Chinookan tribe that lived on what is now known as Sauvie Island. The famous explorers Lewis and Clark visited the Indian village of Multnomah on Sauvie Island in 1805, and applied that name to all local Indians. The name comes from the Native American word nematlnomaq, which probably means "downriver."

Historical photographs of Multnomah County.

Multnomah County loves animals

  • Animal Services protects the pets of Multnomah County. They run an animal shelter that takes in all of the stray or lost animals found in the county. No animal is ever turned away, and they’ve even helped llamas and escaped alligators. Every year, Animal Services reunites almost 2,000 pets with their families. You can adopt cats and dogs from the shelter, and the adoptable animals even have their own web cams where you can check out what they're doing during the day: Kitty Cam, Featured Doggie Cam.
  • Animal Services also protects you from potentially dangerous animals in the county. They are called in to help whenever a loose or dangerous animal is spotted. They also help with animal nuisances, such as when your neighbor’s dog barks too much.

Multnomah County cares about your health

The Multnomah County Health Department’s job is to keep everyone in Multnomah County healthy. They do their job in a lot of ways:

  • They have clinics where you can go if you feel sick.
  • They give shots to prevent you from getting sick.
  • They make sure that restaurants are clean so you don’t get sick.
  • They work in schools to keep you healthy and to educate you about staying healthy.
  • They practice what to do in case of an emergency so they know that they will be able to help everyone.

Multnomah County keeps you safe

Multnomah County does not have a police force to protect it. Instead, there is a Sheriff’s Office that enforces laws and runs the county’s three jails. They focus on protecting people who live outside of the cities in Multnomah County, but are always there to help no matter where you are. They patrol 24-hours a day and respond to all 911 calls, as well as non-emergency calls. They also have three dogs in their K-9 unit that help them search for hidden drugs and missing people.

The Sheriff’s Office also patrols the county’s rivers and lakes. They not only prevent crime like stealing, but they also help people ensure that their boats are safe, do search and rescue, help people who have an emergency on the water. There is also a Dive Team that helps out if they are looking for something under the surface of water or if people need help underwater.

The Department of Community Justice keeps communities safe by helping prevent adults and kids who have broken the law from breaking it again. They also work with the community, organizations, and schools to help prevent crime.

They focus a lot on helping kids avoid getting into trouble in the first place. For example, they run programs in schools and other organizations to help teach kids and teenagers how to deal with feelings like anger in a healthy and safe way. They also work to help kids stay in school and graduate from high school. They also have a program called “Reclaiming Futures” to help teenagers escape and avoid the drugs, alcohol, and crime hurting their community.