The York County SPCA's executive director suspects the economy is to blame, in part, for the overwhelming number of cats and dogs flooding the agency's Emigsville shelter.
"This time of year we always anticipate what we call 'kitten season,' but this year we have just been absolutely inundated with not only kittens, but also with unwanted adult cats and dogs," Melissa Smith said.
In July 2010, the SPCA took in 382 stray cats and 110 stray dogs, she said; this July, it took in 408 cats and 123 dogs -- especially small dogs, for some reason.
The shelter has taken in 200 more animals so far this year to date than last year, she said.
The shelter was over capacity last summer, and this summer is even worse, according to Smith.
"The population this year just seems really strange to us," she said. "I don't know what to attribute it to except the economy -- that people are abandoning their adult dogs and cats."
The SPCA currently has 552 cats and kittens, Smith said, some at the shelter, some in foster care and some at the SPCA's satellite shelters. Those include PetSmart on Route 30, Bark of the Town in the Stonybrook Shopping Center, Petco on Eastern Boulevard and the East York Veterinary Center, she said, and the shelter is hoping more businesses will volunteer to act as satellite shelters as well.
Reduced fee: In an effort to find more "forever homes" for its cats and kittens, the SPCA will cut its feline adoption fees in half for 30 days, starting Tuesday, Smith said. Normally it costs $75 to adopt an adult cat and $130 to adopt a kitten.
The fee is a bargain
even at full price, she said, because it includes spaying or neutering, microchipping, all vaccines including rabies, parasite treatment, a veterinarian exam, a collar, a bag of Science Diet cat food and a cardboard cat carrier.
"Our shelter actually loses money on our adoptions because of everything we provide for the animals," Smith said. "Still, our adoption fees are a very important source of revenue for us."
The SPCA was able to offer the half-price cat adoption fees thanks to a donation by the Glatfelter Insurance Group in York Township that will offset the losses, Smith said.
"Otherwise, we would not be able to afford to lose that adoption revenue," she said.
Lifetime commitment: Smith cautioned that people not make an impulse purchase because of the 30-day cat adoption fee reduction.
"The goal of the discount is to bring more people into the shelter to adopt our cats," she said. "But having said that, the same adoption application process will apply, and we still want people to make sure they are making a lifetime commitment."
Adoption fees for dogs are not being reduced. Generally, the fees are $110 for adults, $50 for seniors and $160 for puppies.
Consider a dog: Now is a great time for people interested in adopting dogs to visit the shelter -- and not just because of the overcrowding problem, Smith said.
"Right now we have a wide array of breeds and sizes for people to choose from when they're looking for dogs," she said, including a large number of small dogs. "And it's not always that way."
The shelter also has more than 20 horses available for adoption, and an Equine Care Fund that horse enthusiasts can donate to, Smith said.
So far, the overcrowding has not forced the SPCA to increase euthanasia of adoptable animals, according to Smith.
"The last thing we want to do is increase our euthanasia rate to offset the amount of animals coming in," she said. "Our goal is to find a home for every adoptable dog and cat we receive, but because we are an open-admission shelter, it seems next to impossible at times."
Open door: Private animal rescues can simply stop taking in pets when they are full. But the SPCA can't, because it has contracts with municipalities to take in strays; pets surrendered by their owners; and several hundred animals seized each year during cruelty investigations, Smith said.
"So we're kind of hit from all sides," she said.
To adopt a cat or dog, visit the York County SPCA's shelter at 3159 Susquehanna Trail North. For information on the adoption process, or to see available pets, log onto www.ycspca.org.
-- Reach Elizabeth Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org, 505-5429 or twitter.com/ydcrimetime.