If you have been thinking of acquiring a new pet, there may not be a better time than now, says Karen Johnwick, director of the Columbus Lowndes Humane Society.
Through the first nine days of December, the CLHS was inundated with about 100 dogs and cats that were either surrendered by their owners or turned in as strays by local animal control officers.
As a result, the humane society — which has kennel capacity for 150 animals — is full to the brink.
While the CLHS is reaching out to rescue groups and adoption organizations in the northern U.S., the grim reality is that some dogs and cats will be euthanized if homes cannot be found.
“Some of the dogs and cats don’t make it out of here,” Johnwick said. “That’s just the reality. If we were a no-kill shelter, we could just shut our doors and not accept any more animals until kennel space opened. But we are obligated to take them in.”
Johnwick said the CLHS currently has about 90 dogs and 60 cats and most are ready for adoption.
“Typically, this time of year – Christmas – we see a little spike in adoptions,” Johnwick said.
She doesn’t recommend adopting a pet as a Christmas gift in some cases, though. While there is nothing wrong with giving some gifts as a surprise, a pet should never be an unexpected gift.
“We tell people not to give a dog or a cat as a Christmas gift unless they are sure the pet is wanted,” she said. “It’s something that requires some real thought. We want all of our adoptions to be long-term commitments. It doesn’t really help to give a dog or a cat as a Christmas gift only for it to be turned back in to us in January or February, which seems to happen every year.”
Johnwick said it is hard to determine why the CLHS has had such a surge in animals being brought in.
“Even when people tell us why they are surrendering the pet, it’s not always reliable information,” she said. “Sometimes, they just don’t want to say that they just don’t want the pet anymore. So they’ll try to find a reason for giving up the pet that seems more acceptable.”
The pets available for adoption have been thoroughly screened, both medically and for temperament.
“Each pet has a card that says whether it is good with other animals, good with children or has special needs,” Johnwick said, noting that all adoptable pets have been spayed or neutered.
“It’s a great bargain,” she said. “You’re getting a couple hundred dollars of medical treatment for the $65 adoption fee for a dog or $35 for a cat.”
Johnwick said operating at capacity is a difficult situation.
“It’s stressful,” she said. “We are wanting the best outcome because we have some really good pets. So we try to get the word out as best we can. When you adopt a dog or cat, you are not only saving the life of one pet, you are opening up kennel space for another animal.”
While the CLHS needs people to adopt pets, there are other ways to help with the crisis.
“Because we are full, there is obviously a greater need for food and cat litter,” Johnwick said. “We’re almost out of cat litter right now.”
Donations of cat/dog food and cat litter are tax deductible and can be dropped off at the CLHS during business hours.
The CLHS is located at 50 Airline Drive in Columbus and is open from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday. The phone number is 662-327-3107.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is email@example.com.
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