In need of a friend? Adopt one

Posted: Sunday, October 24, 2004


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  This blue-eyed husky also is available for adoption at the Kenai shelter. Photo by Joseph Robertia

These pooches are part of a group of 11 pit bull puppies available for adoption from the Kenai Animal Control Shelter.

Photo by Joseph Robertia

Everyone thinks good friends are hard to come by, but that's not always the case. Animal shelters everywhere are full of a wide variety of "best friends" eager animals breathlessly waiting to be welcomed into a loving home.

It's a year-round great idea to adopt a four-legged buddy, but October is an extra special time because it's the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Iams Dog Food's Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month.

These programs are part of a nationwide effort that encourages people to visit animal shelters and select a homeless dog or puppy to take home.

"There are approximately 60 million owned dogs in this country and sadly, less than 20 percent were adopted from shelters," said ASPCA President Edwin J. Sayres.

He hopes Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month will help change that statistic.

Bill Godek, chief animal control officer for the Kenai Animal Control Shelter, said he hopes Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month goes as well as Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month went back in July.

"It was really successful. We adopted out over 30 cats that month, and for awhile afterward we were adopting out more than we were putting down," Godek said.

He hopes that same success will accompany Adopt-A-Dog Month. Typically, the Kenai shelter, like nearly all shelters nationwide, is forced to euthanize more dogs than it adopts out. However, recent trends show this may not be the case for much longer.

According to the Utah-based Best Friends Animal Society, euthanasia is down 70 percent, from 17 million animals in the 1980s to roughly 5 million today.

Data from the Kenai Shelter reflects a similar trend locally. In 2003, the shelter took in 1,415 living animals, of which 707 animals were euthanized, 246 were claimed by their owners and 443 were adopted out.

Godek said the adoption trend has been on the rise for at least the past five years, and he is hopeful it will surpass the euthanasia number in the near future.

"We've never had a year where we adopted out more than we had to put down, but before this month, our adoptions were higher, so this may be the year," he said.

However, Godek said the shelter can't accomplish that goal without community support, and he's hoping people will continue to visit the shelter and consider adopting one or more of the dogs, cats and other animals available.

The cost of adopting an unneutered dog from the shelter is $103.95, but Godek said people shouldn't be intimidated by the price.

"It's important for people to remember that that money goes to the dog's veterinary needs through vouchers," he said.

These vouchers issued for every dog adopted can be used at peninsula veterinary clinics to cover a parvo-distemper vaccine, a rabies vaccine and a spay or neuter operation, whichever the case may be.


This blue-eyed husky also is available for adoption at the Kenai shelter.

Photo by Joseph Robertia

In addition to the Kenai shelter, Marianne Clark, chief animal control officer at the Soldotna Animal Control Center, said they have a small number of dogs but lots of cats available for adoption.

Also, Alaska's Extended-Life Animal Sanctuary a no-kill facility in Nikiski said they have an abundance of dogs available for adoption, as well.

"We've got Labs, border collies, collies, sled dogs, just a whole bunch of dogs," said Tim Colbath, proprietor of the facility.

Some of the dogs the sled dogs were part of a rescue operation that netted the sanctuary 35 more animals to care for in addition to the more than 150 they already had.

"We've been bringing them in the house one at a time and socializing them," Colbath said in regard to the sled dogs. "Some of them are already good with other dogs and cats and lot of them are really making progress."

Colbath said he's even been able to adopt some of them as they were without any socialization work.

"We've had a few big-hearted people just come and fall in love with some of them. I think we had seven animals adopted in one day last Saturday," he said.

"Channel 11 news also came out and did an interview with us and we're hoping that will help place some dogs into good homes, as well," Colbath added.

For more information, hours of operation, or for directions to any of the shelters, call the Kenai Animal Control Shelter at 283-7353, the Soldotna Animal Control Center at 262-3969, or the Alaska's Extended-Life Animal Sanctuary at 776-3614.

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