The Ray County Humane Society, located at 210 College Street, in Richmond currently has 21 dogs and 12 cats ready for adoption. Some of the dogs have been with the shelter for nearly a year.
Whenever the economy falters, business at animal shelters shifts too-from more adoptions to more taken in. Many shelters across the country report higher numbers of ‘drop offs’ either with an owner bringing the pet in, or those who leave them after hours.
The problem is compounded by the number of pet owners that let their animals run loose or dump them off somewhere, and do not take measures to have them spayed or neutered.
Nationally, and even locally, loose dogs and cats become nuisances in neighborhoods where they turn over and tear into garbage cans and defecate and/or dig in lawns, gardens and flowerbeds. Walkers and joggers complain about loose dogs that approach them, sometimes aggressively.
Feeding seemingly lost or abandoned cats or dogs only encourages them to hang around and inevitably more will gather. Kathy McIntosh of Town & Country Animal Clinic said, “If you’re going to feed them, then spay and neuter them so they don’t multiply.”
Obviously, if a stray cat hangs around and you end up feeding it because you’re worried about it starving, then also consider the ramifications of not spaying or neutering your new charge. This only results in more unwanted puppies and kittens that will need to find food too. It is best not to feed the stray cat or dog hanging around your home or business if you don’t want to take full charge of the animal. If they don’t find food, they will move along.
Donna Payton of the Ray County Humane Society said 55 dogs/puppies and 34 cats/kittens were adopted in 2008. Nine dogs were reclaimed by their owners and a total of 15 cats or dogs were euthanized. Sometimes, the shelter takes in dogs the city picks up when they have the space to house them.
“We have to turn some animals away due to lack of manpower and/or space,” Payton said. “If people will just hold on until we get space, we can take more.” Of course space only becomes available when adoptions are steady.
“We used to get one or two calls a week about animals left behind when someone moves,” said McIntosh. “Now, it’s an everyday thing. The calls usually come from the neighbors because the former owners just left them running loose.”
McIntosh also said they average about a call a day from someone wanting to bring an animal into the shelter.
“We have to have the space to take them,” said McIntosh, “otherwise we’d have 365 animals in a year.”
The Ray County Humane Society does require a $20 fee when an animal is taken in at the shelter, but that doesn’t cover the cost for food and care and any veterinary care it may need.
According to a survey by the American Pet Products Association, the average cost per year of owning a dog is around $1,400 and $1,000 for a cat. The survey reported approximately 231 million pets (excluding fish) in more than 71 million homes in America.
An Associated Press-Petside.com poll found that “one in seven owners nationwide reported reduced spending on their pets during the past year’s recession. Of those cutting back, more than a quarter said they have seriously considered giving up their pet.”
It isn’t as much the cost of the food that results in a pet being given up as it is when people are forced to move and cannot find housing that will accept a pet.
If you must move and cannot take your pet, first contact friends and family to see if they can help. Continue to seek housing that will accept your pet, and keeping it clean, in good condition and having it spayed or neutered add to its acceptability to landlords. References are a good idea. If you truly cannot find a home for your pet, then it’s time to call the Humane Society, another shelter, or look up an animal rescue group that cares for your specific type of pet.
Photo: “We’re looking for loving homes!” A female Redbone hound and her puppies are ready for adoption at the Ray County Humane Society. The puppies, one male and three females, are eight weeks old and have already been neutered/spayed. Come see these adorable hounds by contacting Town & Country Animal Clinic at 816-776-5306. Left to right: Caitlynn Payton, Casey Salmons, Donna Payton, Samantha Miller, and Francesca Rock managed to catch a hound in order to get this photo. (Photo by Brenda Jensen/The Daily News)