Mary Katherine Murphy
For the first time that anyone at the JD and Fran Asher Animal Shelter could remember, empty cages outnumbered inhabited ones on Friday as the shelter’s two-day free adoption period drew to a close.
With 68 dogs and 50 cats in the shelter earlier this week, the staff and volunteers of the Scotland County Humane Society were faced with a full shelter at the beginning of puppy and kitten season. The group had few options other than to euthanize healthy, friendly animals simply because they had been in the shelter too long without finding new homes.
However, Humane Society Director Sara Hatchell didn’t find that an acceptable solution.
“They are perfectly healthy, happy, wonderful pets who deserve a second chance,” Hatchell said. “I can’t see euthanizing them just because they’re out of space. There are homes out there.”
Waiving adoption fees for pets, usually $50 for cats and $90 for dogs, on Thursday and Friday proved her right, with 38 animals adopted by mid afternoon on Friday. In addition, by promoting on Facebook, the shelter received a donation to cover the course of treatment for three heartworm positive dogs, one of whom has already been adopted.
“It’s just been phenomenal that the community has come out to support these animals that have been in the shelter long enough that their lives were in danger,” said Hatchell.
Adopters were still subject to the shelter’s usual application process, but few applications were turned away.
“We just ask about housing and how you’ll care for the animal, whether or not you’re employed, things of that nature,” Hatchell said. “We just try to get a good feel for the person and whether or not they’ll care for the animal they want. There were a few applications turned away that we just didn’t feel comfortable with, but most were very qualified people who wanted to help out and save a life.”
For lack of adoptable animals, the Humane Society has even had to cancel its routine weekend adoption outreach trip to the PetSmart locations in Aberdeen and Fayetteville.
Although it may mean less income from adoption fees, Hatchell can envision holding a free adoption event monthly, at least during the summer months.
“Ultimately it’s going to cost us money, but the dedication to saving lives is what this Humane Society is all about,” she said. “That and education; we have to educate the public about spay and neuter. They just have to understand that the community is the reason we are here - if people would spay and neuter their animals, we wouldn’t have to be here and we wouldn’t have to make the choice to euthanize.”