Friday, December 21, 2007

Shelter looks at overcrowded holiday

Express Staff Writer

A passel of puppies await adoption from the Animal Shelter, but beware of timing.Courtesy photo

Though Christmas is just days away, timing your gift giving is still possible. Dr. Jo-Anne Dixon, medical director of the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley says before Christmas is better than on Christmas when it comes to gifts of animals.

Animals given as a surprise are more often returned if they weren't planned, Dixon said.

While a puppy in the window of a pet store is appealing, animal shelters have many dogs, some of them purebreds, who desperately need the gift of a loving home this holiday season.

"We've historically not been advocates for animals as Christmas presents," she said. "It's better for people who have already considered getting animals. One family consciously got a kitten now and will give it cat toys on Christmas."

This year there is more than the normal share of cats in the shelter, and a slew of puppies arrived in November.

Of the 57 dogs in the shelter, 35 are at least six months old and 22 are puppies. Of the 34 cats, 27 are at least six months old. Seven are kittens.

"Cats hang out outside until it's cold, then they come in and need to be cared for," Dixon said. "That's when people bring them in to the shelter. They are warm-weather breeders, and we had such a warm fall that we got another litter. For a while we were getting four to seven kittens a week."

At the moment there are eight border collie-mix puppies named after Santa's reindeer. Dixon said the shelter tries to keep litters together and that they name them after a theme.

There are also nine six-week-old Catahoula Weinheimer pups that were fostered out. Their mother was found tied to a tree.

Pups that came in November were given Thanksgiving theme names such as Pumpkin Pie and Sweet Potato.

Dixon said one reason they've been able to keep the population under control is the no-cost spay and neuter programs. This year, 300 animals were spayed or neutered.

"We know we're making a difference," she said. "It's been great but for whatever reason we've been inundated with puppies and kittens. If you're thinking of getting a new animal, it's a good place to start."

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