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Plenty of shelter animals are available

By AL SWANSON, United Press International   |   July 4, 2010 at 6:10 AM   |   Comments

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A young man recently jailed after stealing two puppies from a suburban Chicago pet store probably couldn't have gotten the dogs from a shelter even though shelters are bursting at the seams.

One of the stolen Pomeranian pups died after being shot with BB gun pellets. The 21-year-old dog thief had an extensive juvenile record.

Overcrowded no-kill shelters try to screen pet adoptions and urge people who feel they can no longer care for their pets to surrender rather than abandon them.

When a man called an Indiana veterinarian to ask her to put down a dozen newborn kittens the answer was no, The (Lafayette/West Lafayette, Ind.) Journal & Courier reported.

"We've gotten other calls from people saying, 'I don't know what to do with my dog. Can I just put it to sleep?'" veterinarian Heather Baker, owner of the Wildcat Valley Animal Clinic, told the paper.

The Almost Home Humane Society, a no-kill shelter in Lafayette, acknowledges the problem of unwanted pets is growing and praises veterinarians for standing up for defenseless animals.

Budget cuts forced the humane society to stop accepting animals directly from owners, but the facility still takes in strays and abandoned pets.

An overcrowded shelter in Sylacauga, Ala., has taken in nearly 4,000 animals since January, the mayor told The Daily Home. The shelter became so full the newspaper says more than 500 dogs and cats have had to be transferred to the Greater Birmingham Humane Society since April.

The Miami-Dade Animal Shelter said it took in 228 animals -- double the normal number -- on a Saturday and on a typical day only places 24 animals for adoption. The shelter is forced to euthanize more than 90 animals on an average day.

"People need to realize what happens here, and they need to understand that this is the consequence of what happens in the community out there. This is what we all do to our best friend," shelter worker Xiomara Mordcovich told WFOR-TV, Miami. "We need to realize that we can spay and neuter our dogs to prevent the overpopulation. I hope people realize there are beautiful animals for adoption and the fact that they should identify their pets and they should come to volunteer."

In Ashland, Mass., the MetroWest Humane Society, a 35-year-old no-kill cat shelter, said it had 160 kitties up for adoption recently, with 75 more on a waiting list for openings, and "there simply isn't any more room here," The (Framingham, Mass.) MetroWest Daily News reported.

"When you take an animal in, you make a promise to take care of them for the rest of their lives," shelter manager Jackie Walters told the newspaper. "A lot more effort needs to be made by owners to find a safe place for their pet to live."

She said people with an unwanted pet should not assume there's an opening at a local shelter and should call as many as possible.

Our family has donated to a no-kill shelter for years, as well as given food to the city shelter. The need remains great. One neighbor provides a foster home for young kittens until they are placed for adoption. Some of the animals she has hand-raised include pedigreed Himalayan kittens -- with long hair and piercing blue eyes -- that would cost a small fortune in any pet store.

A U.S. survey found dogs and cats can help their owners cope with anxiety. Nine of 10 respondents said household pets helped them deal with life stresses and 83 percent indicated they valued the steady presence of a pet despite concerns about the uncertain economy.

Ike, a young pit bull that became a Chicago media star in April after he was televised playing in traffic on Interstate 290 in Broadview, Ill., was placed in a foster home by Precious Pets Almost Home, but has gone unclaimed.

"He's a very chill dog," veterinarian Tracy Garza told the Chicago Sun-Times. "He doesn't even bark at cats."

Petwebdesigner.com, a Web site design firm on Long Island, N.Y., is teaming up with the award-winning Kent Animal Shelter on AnimalRoulette.com, a Web site dedicated to finding good homes for animals.

The site, which goes live July 17 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST, will link via webcam people seeking a pet in a chat room with someone who has a pet available for adoption. Other shelters around the United States are expected to join as the online program expands.

"I know how much shelters in this country struggle to find homes for their animals, and I felt that today's opportunity of real time on the Internet provided the perfect place for pet lovers all over the country to see what's available," said Michael Ayalon, chief executive officer of Petwebdesigner.com.

Ayalon, who started his company in 2003, said in a Facebook interview with the ASPCA he adopted a pit bull named Soco from a shelter in 1994.

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