Largest single day adoptions ever at Kitsap Humane Society

Richard Slover visited with each dog at the Kitsap Humane Society in Silverdale Saturday morning. It included walking up to each dog for a petting. Slover wanted to make sure to get to know each dog before deciding which to adopt.

"I'm an animal lover. I don't want to see them stuck here,"  Slover said.

Slover, of Gorst, has one dog and a big backyard. He wanted  another dog to play fetch with and the humane society just seemed like a good idea to find one.

"It's not the animal," Slover said of some who may have negative associations with shelter animals. "It's the people that raise them."

The Humane Society held a pay-what-you-can event to adopt animals Saturday because of its shelter overcrowding. Forty-three animals were adopted making it the largest number of adoptions in one day.

Part of the reason for the autumn increase in numbers can be attributed to being "weather-related," said Sean Compton, executive director of the Kitsap Humane Society, citing that more cats were breeding.

"It's quite unusual, we're scrambling," Compton said.

In addition, the Humane Society generally has an ongoing problem of too many animals because other shelters in the area look to it for help, Compton said. They get calls from Gig Harbor and Mason and Jefferson counties aside from local ones, he added.

Since the economic collapse began in 2008, the number of animals at the shelter have been on the rise. In 2009, Kitsap Humane Society admitted 4,788 animals and by the end of this year, 4,800 are projected to be taken in, Compton said.

Compton believes the main reason for the increase in the number of animals and former pets needing shelter is the down economy. When owners surrender their pets, they must list the reasons why. In general, they don't list the economy, Compton said.

"There's a great deal of shame," he said.

Last Friday, there were 180 animals at the Humane Society. Aside from dogs and cats,the rolls included a dove and chinchilla, said Compton.

About 800 animals that would otherwise need shelter are spread out across the humane society's foster network where trained volunteers house animals until they are adopted, he added.

Because the humane society does not euthanize animals in order to free up space at the shelter for others, it relies on its volunteers who foster animals at their homes as well as residents who come in to adopt an animal. Animals are only euthanized in "extreme situations" where their health or behavior is unmanageable or if they are a danger to humans, Compton said. Last year 6 percent of the animals were euthanized and this year it has been at 5 percent, Compton added.

Vicki Chang, of Port Orchard, adopted a cat Saturday. She came with her daughter, Margo Chang, and 1-year-old grandson, Jacob Nelsen, to look at the felines before selecting one. Vicki Chang adopted a kitten from the humane society last year and decided that a new friend was also needed.

"There are so many pets that need good homes. It's the right thing to do," she said.

At the humane society, the price to adopt an adult cat ranges from $20 to $80 while a dog can be from $75 to $150. Although it was pay-what-you-can, many of the adoptions Saturday were within the range or even higher.

A study published in 2009 in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science indicates that attachment to cats did not decrease when adopted without adoption fees.

"The price doesn't determine whether an animal will be cared for," Compton said.

The adoption process is the same for everyone who intends to adopt an animal from the shelter. Heather Kite, the shelter director, said people are first able to walk through the kennel area to see the available animals. Each animal has a kennel card that lists all information available on the animal. Stray animals are on hold for five days until they can be adopted in case the original owner comes looking for them.

After filling out an adoption application, the person or family will meet with an adoption counselor who will address the needs of the animal and introduce the people to the animal.

"We're not throwing out animals as people drive by," said Abby Ouimet, a spokeswoman for the humane society, on events such as Saturday's "Empty the Kennels" or during any time for that manner. "It's always about finding the right fit."

Vicki Chang found the right fit for her family in a black and brown cat with a spotted nose.

"I think she wants to go home with us," she said.

And she did.



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