Central Missouri Humane Society reduces adoption rates for weekend

Friday, July 10, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Animals at the Central Missouri Humane Society can be adopted for $75 during a promotion this weekend, starting Thursday and going through Sunday.

The fee is down to $75 from $100 for dogs, cats and kittens and from $120 for puppies 2 months to 4 months old. It follows the intake of 24 dogs brought in by the Missouri Department of Agriculture after a breeder was forced to downsize; the fee was decided on during a Wednesday management meeting, said Halley Taylor, shelter relations coordinator.

“Those animals (from the Agriculture Department) on top of the tremendous amount of animals from the community have overwhelmed us and our staff," Taylor said. "We needed to think of a proactive response opposed to a reactive one, and that is to reduce the cost of adoption.”

The blanket reduction fee is the first time Heather Duren Stubbs, shelter operations coordinator, has seen such a broad adoption incentive in her four years there.

“We like to see our animals leave in the hands of good homes, and if that means we reduce the adoption fee, then that’s what we’re going to do,” Duren Stubbs said.

The Humane Society does euthanize animals, but they are typically “older or terribly aggressive,” Taylor said. Animals are not euthanized just because they've been there a certain amount of time, she said.

As of 4:30 p.m. Thursday, the shelter houses 253 animals, about 200 of which are adoption-ready.

Duren Stubbs said the main goal of the shelter is to get animals into homes, in spite of any financial constraints.

Each animal costs the shelter about $15 dollars per day, Taylor said.

“We’re not in the position to lose money, but we like to see animals leave alive,” Duren Stubbs said. "We hope that donations will make up for what we lose.”

Reducing the adoption fee is possible because it is mostly used to cover the cost of spaying or neutering the animal, not for profit, Taylor said.

“This is not seen as a huge financial punch,” she said. “Even when we charge $100, there isn’t a huge profit on those adoptions.”

And the crowding could get worse for the open shelter. Summer is a busy time because of the increased number of births, Duren Stubbs said.

“The number of animals that comes into the shelter is a gamble every single day,” Duren Stubbs said. “We open our day, and we could take in two animals or we could take in 200 animals.”

According to Taylor, if each of the kennels housed just one animal, the shelter would be at capacity at about 150 animals, but with larger numbers, the shelter has to make due with other open spaces.

“We make space in any way that we can, but in order to make space, we use offices and portable crates," Taylor said. "We also double-up the animals in the kennels and utilize foster homes.”

Although they try to keep the cats individually housed in the 30 cat cages, the 46 dog kennels house either two dogs or a litter of puppies.

“As an open-door shelter, we get about 173 to 200 every single week,” Taylor said. “We’re getting an insane amount of animals.”

The Humane Society has official contracts with 13 different counties, but “in one way or another,” 53 counties have used the shelter during the past year, Taylor said.

Although the shelter runs various promotional events throughout the calendar year, Taylor said she hopes this broad fee reduction will bring an increased number of adoptions.

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