Pets find new homes at Clear the Shel­ters event

Tri-County shel­ter waives adop­tion fees on Satur­day

Maryland Independent - - News - By CHARLIE WRIGHT cwright@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Char­lieIndyNews

Cud­dly crea­tures of all breeds and species were fly­ing out of their cages on Satur­day at the Tri-County An­i­mal Shel­ter, as ea­ger po­ten­tial pet own­ers flocked to the Hugh­esville lo­ca­tion to take part in the Clear the Shel­ters event.

Spon­sored by NBC and Tele­mu­ndo, the oc­ca­sion fea­tured more than 900 shel­ters across the coun­try waiv­ing adop­tion fees in an ef­fort to re­duce over­crowd­ing by find­ing fam­i­lies for needy an­i­mals.

“It’s great that ev­ery­one comes to­gether to try and help the an­i­mals in the com­mu­nity,” said Tri-County An­i­mal Shel­ter Su­per­vi­sor Kim Stephens. “Our goal is to place as many adopt­able an­i­mals as we can into lov­ing homes and open up some cages for an­i­mals that con­tinue to come in.”

Stephens said the shel­ter adopted out a record 77 an­i­mals at the event in 2016, and she was hop­ing to sur­pass that to­tal this year. As of Mon­day, the of­fi­cial Clear the Shel­ters web­site had the 2017 adop­tion count at 64,887 pets, push­ing the three­year to­tal to 138,298 an­i­mals. The map on the site shows lo­ca­tions stretch­ing all the from Hawaii to Puerto Rico, with plenty of plot­ted points in be­tween.

The nor­mal adop­tion cost at Tri-County is $125 for dogs and $85 for cats, and that cov­ers vac­cines, test­ing for dis­eases and any other nec­es­sary ex­ams. The fee-free adop­tions in­clude all of those of­fer­ings, al­though some pets re­quired ex­tra treat­ment be­fore they could be taken home.

Petco, another na­tional spon­sor for the event, sup­plied free sup­plies to each new owner. Cus­tomers left with goodie bags of pet food, toys, hats and var­i­ous com­pany gear. Staff from the Vet­eri­nary Cen­ters of Amer­ica, St. Mary’s An­i­mal Hos­pi­tal and the Hu­mane So­ci­ety of Charles County were on hand to pro­vide ad­di­tional med­i­cal as­sis­tance and in­for­ma­tion.

Pa­trons lined up at the Hugh­esville shel­ter well be­fore the 10 a.m. start time, and were greeted at the front desk by cages full of kit­tens. Par­ents and chil­dren filed through a hall­way lined with all types of dogs, and any­one in­ter­ested could take the ca­nines out­side and run around with them in one of the two play ar­eas.

There was a sim­i­lar room brim­ming with cats who could be plucked from their cages and played with. Jamie Barta of Prince Fred­er­ick knew ex­actly which fe­line to pick. She had scouted out the shel­ter the pre­vi­ous week and set her sights on an all-gray male kit­ten named Squirt for her and her daugh­ter. As Barta fi­nal­ized the trans­ac­tion with Stephens and Tri-County staff, Squirt got a bit skit­tish.

“He was play­ful the other day, I think it’s all the peo­ple,” said Bar ta, as she tried to re­move Squirt’s claws from her shoul­der.

Those look­ing to es­cape the hus­tle and bus­tle of the presently-home­less an­i­mal king­dom could stop by the cat room, a quiet space where older kit­ties roamed (or napped) freely. The cats in this sec­tion seemed far less con­cerned about leav­ing their do­main than the other an­i­mals, sleep­ing on the var­i­ous ledges and am­bling be­neath the feet of on­look­ers. One par­tic­u­larly un­con­cerned res­i­dent sprawled out on the counter as a Tri-County em­ployee at­tempted to fill out pa­per­work.

The shel­ter avoids putting ages on the col­lars of these cats to max­i­mize their op­por­tu­ni­ties of find­ing a home.

“We want peo­ple to get to know their per­son­al­i­ties,” Stephens said. “It’s a place for them to re­lax, more of a home en­vi­ron­ment.”

The Long fam­ily of Bowie made one of the first adop­tions of the af­ter­noon, nab­bing a dog named Chance. Andy and Mindy Long had been search­ing for a new ad­di­tion to the clan for about a month, but hadn’t set­tled on the right hound. Chance fit the bill and the fam­ily zoomed through the adop­tion process, a re­cur­ring theme de­spite the packed venue.

“Ev­ery­thing was smooth,” Andy Long said. “It’s busy, but they did a good job of mov­ing peo­ple through quickly.”

STAFF PHOTO BY CHARLIE WRIGHT

The Longs wel­come Chance to their fam­ily. From left, 12-year-old Re­becca, 14-year-old Nathaniel, Andy, Mindy and 7-year-old Kather­ine pose with their new fam­ily mem­ber.

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