Jefferson County pet adoptions rise in 2019

Ashley Hunter
ECB Publishing, Inc.

For several reporters at ECB Publishing, Inc., the plight of strays, ferals and shelter animals is one that we take dear to heart.
According to the ASPCA, 3.9 million dogs and 3.4 million cats enter animal shelters every year around the United States; of those animals, 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats will be euthanized.
For no-kill shelters like the Wolf Creek Pet Adoption Center, of Monticello, euthanization for space is not an option, and shelter directors instead face issues of overcrowding and slow turnover rates as the animals that come into their care are safe, fed and cared for until a new owner adopts them.
Many of these animals are former pets of owners who could no longer give their beloved animal the care and attention they deserved, or a family pet that needed to be rehomed due to lifestyle changes from its family. Others are strays or abandoned kittens and puppies that were left, literally, on Wolf Creek’s doorstep. Whatever their stories, these individual animals all deserve a chance at securing a forever-home with a family who loves and cares for them.
As such, ECB Publishing, Inc. runs a regular “adoptable” feature that spotlights the various animals from the shelter. The animals spotlighted in the feature have varied origin stories but are all ready for a new home and family.
Several of the animals included in this feature have seen success stories of their own - in early 2019, a Monticello News subscriber contacted the reporters in order to offer a “fairytale” conclusion to an adoptable-featured cat that had been published by the newspaper. The cat, which at the time of the adoptable feature, had been returned to the shelter by a former owner who could no longer care for the senior feline’s growing health problems. For most senior cats, animal shelters are a final destination; statistics show that kittens are far more likely to be adopted than cats, and 15-year-old Oreo was undoubtedly past the ‘kitten’ stage. But the adoptable feature that was published in the Monticello News caught the attention of subscriber Sue Henrikson, who said that Oreo’s story touched her. After reading Oreo’s feature,
Henrikson chose to visit Wolf Creek and meet the cat and quickly knew she needed to bring the elderly feline home with her. With Henrikson, Oreo put her shelter life behind her and found a home that would allow her to rest, recover and retire happily.
Last year (2018), a total of 201 cats and dogs found homes after they were adopted out from Wolf Creek and another 80 animals were transferred to other North Florida adoption centers and specialized rescues throughout the year.
In 2018, the adoption trends saw an upward spike, as only 147 animals were adopted in 2017.
That upward trend continued into 2019, according to a released adoption report from Wolf Creek’s director, Shirley Plessinger.
In 2019, from January 1 through December 31, 228 animals were brought to the Wolf Creek Pet Adoption Center (which is up, compared to the 185 animals that were brought in during 2018).
Of those incoming animals, 81 were cats, 146 were dogs and one rabbit was surrendered to the center.
While a larger number of cats and dogs were brought into the shelter, Wolf Creek also saw a rise in adoptions throughout 2019. A total of 237 pets found their homes in 2019 after being adopted out of Wolf Creek, which includes 143 adopted dogs and 93 adopted cats and one rabbit. These numbers compare to the 2018 count of 201 adoptions.
Interestingly, 2019 also saw more feline friends finding forever homes than they did in 2018. Compared to this year’s 93 adopted cats, 2018 only adopted out 61 cats.
“Our numbers are pretty awesome this year,” said Plessinger. “We participated in every adoption event possible this year.”
Plessinger adds that 2018’s adoption rate helped the shelter open up space for more animals in 2019, which contributed, in part, to the raised intake rate throughout this recent year.
While the shelter has seen much success in the last two years in adoption out animals, Plessinger reminds the public that there is a proper procedure when it comes to surrendering your pet or a stray.
“We do have a proper procedure on a surrender. Come in fill out the paperwork and give us any medical information on the animal to help us with vetting,” said Plessinger. “If we have the room, we'll take them in.”
Since the Wolf Creek Pet Adoption Center is a no-kill refuge for stray, abandoned, neglected or surrendered pets, Wolf Creek requires adoptions to keep their center from reaching full capacity.
Every cat or dog that is taken in by the Wolf Creek center is spayed or neutered, as well as nursed back to complete health and given the proper scheduling of vaccines.
These costs weigh on the center, and when adoptions don't help balance out the costs of caring for an animal, the center has to rely on donations from the local government agencies, businesses and individuals.
Without the Jefferson County Humane Society and the Wolf Creek Pet Adoption Center, stray animals in the county would have nowhere to go and the overpopulation of stray cats and dogs would grow due to the animals being released without being spayed or neutered.

Want to help your local animal shelter and humane society?
• Adopt before you shop. Before you decide to purchase a purebred puppy from a breeder, browse your local animal shelter or rescues.
• Donate! Many shelters, rescues and adoption centers will never turn down donated food, supplies or funds. If you want to make sure your donations are in line with current needs, call ahead.
• Foster an animal. When no-kill shelters or rescues reach full capacity, they end up having to turn away owner-surrendered or stray animals due to a lack of space. Fosters help take in the animals that a shelter or rescue cannot, perhaps due to placement issues, or because the animal does not do well in a shelter environment. Foster parents also help shy or reserved animals come out of their shells and become prepared for a new home.
• Volunteer your time. Like any non-profit, many animal shelters and rescues depend on the time and assistance that volunteers give towards their center.
Want to get in touch with the Wolf Creek Pet Adoption Center to inquire about adoptions, donations or volunteering opportunities? Visit the center's located at 2123 E. Washington, in Monticello, or give them a call at (850) 342-0244.