Shelter waives adoption fees amid 'overload' of available pets

Sarah Eames | The Daily Star 

Some of the 130 cats available for adoption at the Chenango SPCA in Norwich are shown Tuesday.

With the weather turning warmer and dogs and cats beginning to rapidly reproduce, directors at the Chenango SPCA said the shelter has taken in so many animals it can’t give them away fast enough.

All adoption fees — ordinarily $55 for dogs and $40 for cats — have been waived until the end of the month. 

“Sometimes we get overloaded,” said Annette Clarke, executive director of the shelter. “And we know they never stop coming in.”

With 14 dogs and 130 cats currently in its care, the Norwich shelter is well past its capacity, she said. When kennel space runs out, dogs go in crates on the floor and the cats go “anywhere we can put them,” Clarke said.

“The need is great in this area and it’s very evident,” Clarke said. “Animals bring so much to a person’s life, and we can help people who want to open their homes to an animal — sometimes not to have to come up with that $40 or $50 makes all the difference.”

Shelter animals come with baggage, and not every pet is right for every home, Clarke said, so all adoption applicants are still subject to screening.

“We want this to be the forever home,” she said.

The organization’s motto is “giving animals a better tomorrow,” Clarke said. “We try to make sure their days here are good so they can have a home that’s better.”

No animal leaves the shelter unless it’s been spayed or neutered, Clarke said. Prospective pet owners are still responsible for the associated fees, but many adoptable animals have already undergone the procedure and are ready to go home free of charge.

The shelter receives no government funding, instead relying on donations and grants, Clarke said.

“When you get an animal into a home, you’re not feeding it, you’re not cleaning its cage,” she said. Staff put in more hours when the shelter nears or exceeds its capacity, and the savings in labor and supply costs more than offset the free adoptions, Clarke said.

As participants in the Hills Science Diet’s Shelter and Love program, the organization is able to purchase pet food at a reduced rate, Clarke said, and any pet food received from outside donors is passed along to other local animal rescues and even food pantries for people through the shelter’s Paw it Forward program.

The shelter also offers financial assistance for spay and neuter services and emergency vet visits for community members in need.

“The idea is that if they can keep the animals in their homes, it’s better for everyone,” Clarke said. “The animals that come in here, their lives are in our hands so we try to do the best we can for them.”

Visit chenangospca.org for applications or more information.

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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