Why is wildfire season more dangerous for pets?
Well, based on the experiences we've had from the last couple of years with the fires, often times, people were not prepared to evacuate their pets, or they had already left their homes and gone to work and could not get back in to rescue their pets. So, we feel it's just a good idea in general to have a preparedness kit ready and some other resources available should you have to evacuate your home, or should your home become a total loss, and you can't go back to it. One of the things is having a kit ready with all your pet supplies, and also having a list of boarding facilities, kennels and pet-friendly hotels. For instance, if your house burns down, and you can't go back, but you don't want to keep your pet in a boarding facility or can't afford to, where is a pet-friendly hotel where you can go and stay until you get a more permanent place to live?
What if someone does lose their pet?
Identification is really key, because it helps reunite the person with their animal that much quicker. If you were to lose a 2-year-old shepherd mix, well, how many hundreds of thousands of shepherd mixes could there be? How do we know this one is yours? Like with (Hurricane) Katrina, for instance. Many animals were transported to different states. How is a person supposed to find their pet when they're scattered all over the country with no identification? So, it is really a key thing. And having food and water supplies, any medication, medical records and vaccination records are also important, because a lot of boarding facilities will not accept pets without proof of vaccination.
I've heard there's an influx of animals during the summer. Is that true?
Always. People say it's breeding season, but there's really no such thing. Animals breed year-round. In the warmer weather, litters are more likely to survive. When it's colder weather, animals are a little bit less active, a little less likely to breed. But if a cat births her kittens out on the street, chances are, the kittens may not survive, because they really don't have any permanent shelter.
How do you deal with all of those animals coming in?
We take in any animal. We try to find homes for as many as we can. Very young kittens and puppies that are not able to be adopted often go into foster care. That's a temporary solution; at some point, they're going to have to come back into the shelter. So we try to house as many animals as we can here in the shelter. ... The other thing we do is try to offer as many discounted or free spay and neuter days as we can. Because the more animals that are spayed and neutered, the more animals will not be reproducing, and the fewer litters we will receive. We've taken in fewer animals over the last few years. A couple of years ago, we took in more than 20,000, and last year, we took in 12,000, so the number has reduced in the last couple of years.
So do you think those numbers will continue to fall?
We don't know, but we hope so. We hope that getting the message out about spaying and neutering, and offering free or discounted spay and neuter days, will eventually, over time, help reduce the number of animals taken in.
How much would it cost me to adopt a pet?
To adopt cats and dogs is $80. Puppies and kittens are $95, and purebred dogs are $135, which is still a great bargain. That includes spay or neuter surgery, the first vaccinations, an identification microchip, one month of health and accident insurance for the pet, the first vet visit free, and with cats, they also get a feline leukemia test, so it's a pretty comprehensive package.
Is there a screening process for adopting?
Yes. And during the month of June, because it's national Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, we're offering a discount on cats and kittens. They're two for the price of one. We consider that to be twice the love and twice the fun. It's like potato chips; you can't have just one.