Humane Society offers adoptions for some animals for free

Sunday, July 15, 2012 | 7:25 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The Central Missouri Humane Society is close to capacity and has begun using creative techniques to get animals adopted out. 

“We’re pretty much at capacity all the time, creating cage space always an issue,” executive director Mary Pat Boatfield said. “The shelter environment is not good for dogs for a long period of time; it is very stressful for them,” she said.

The shelter has started a new program giving away dogs for free that have been in the shelter for a long time.

The “Free Fur All” adoption special started out as a Fourth of July marketing event, designed to get people in the door. Certain dogs, cats and small animals that the staff chose were marked “Free Fur All,” meaning that with an approved application, the adoption cost was canceled.

All dogs and cats adopted from the Central Missouri Humane Society come with a spay or neuter, a microchip, the first round of shots, a five-pound bag of food and a free veterinarian visit.

Five dogs were adopted out for free in the initial event, out of 16 available. The program was successful enough that shelter staff decided to carry it on through the rest of July.

From July 1 to July 13, 40 dogs were adopted from the shelter, compared with 31 in the same period last year.

Even if people do not adopt a free dog, they may come in to look and fall in love with another dog, Boatfield said. She said the residual effect of the Free Fur All program has been positive. Staff members continue to select dogs to be enrolled in the program based on animals they see fit.

Boatfield said the shelter gets new animals every day and people often bypass older dogs for puppies.

“Unfortunately, some dogs are just more adoptable than others,” she said.

This summer, kittens have become even more of a problem than dogs. According to Boatfield, it's high kitten season.

The shelter has about 100 kittens in foster care currently, many still too small to be adopted.

Like dogs, the amount of cats adopted from the Central Missouri Humane Society increased from July 2011 to 2012. Last year from July 1 to 13, the shelter adopted out 46 cats and kittens. This year, in the same time period, the shelter has adopted out 73 cats and kittens.

To encourage people to adopt more kittens, the shelter has started a new “Two Fur One” program. For the entire month of July,  any person who adopts one kitten for $100 can get a second one for free.

According to adoption coordinator Darcy Hurlbutt, two really is better than one.

“When you get two kittens, they can play together and wrestle," Hurlbutt said. "They do really cute things.”

With the shelter so close to capacity — there is not enough room for the kittens in the shelter’s cat room — any kind of special that gets people in the door helps.

“Any time we adopt out one animal, we make space to help adopt out another animal,” Boatfield said. The key to high adoptions is getting lots of people in the facility, she said.

“The more people see it, the more likely it is to get adopted,” she said.

The shelter is an open admission facility, meaning that they never turn down an animal that someone surrenders to them.

“We are constantly battling capacity,” Boatfield said. “The more animals we adopt out, the more we can get in from our holding areas. It is a difficult balance,” she said.

Supervising editor is Celia Darrough.

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