98 Felines Find Homes After Port Angeles Shelter Waives Adoption Fee

From the January 7, 2014 Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The Olympic Peninsula Humane Society found new homes for 98 cats and kittens for Christmas after the society waived the feline adoption fee for December.

The temporary fee waiver nearly doubled the Port Angeles-based shelter’s average monthly cat adoption rate of 50, shelter Director Mary Beth Wegener said.

“We [had] to figure out a way to move a lot of them out so our staff wasn’t drowning in cats and kittens.”

There are still 80 felines awaiting permanent homes, although the full fee will be required. In the final month of 2013, Wegener estimated that the shelter at 2105 W. U.S. Highway 101 west of Port Angeles had about 80 cats and slightly more than 100 kittens in its care.

“We needed to move them out of the shelter, and we wanted to try something new,” Wegener said. The shelter waived the normal $85-per-cat adoption fee, charging only $25 per animal for vaccinations and microchipping until Christmas. The $85 usually includes spaying or neutering and a free health check by a veterinarian, Wegener said, all of which was done for no extra cost for cats during December. “It was a pretty awesome deal,” she said.

In just the first two weeks of December, Wegener said the shelter found homes for 64 kittens and 18 adult cats.“This was the first time that we tried this, and it seemed to have struck a chord with the community because we did very well,” she said. The response to the promotion, which Wegener called the society’s most successful in her almost three years as executive director, seemed to come mostly from the society publicizing it on its Facebook page.

The shelter sent 15 adult cats to the Northwest Organization for Animal Help in Stanwood a few days ago. “It’s much more manageable now than it was in early December,” Wegener said. Wegener said winter is an unusual time for the shelter to run such a promotion since “kitten season” — when the society gets in the most kittens — typically runs from April to November. “Our kitten season started a little later this year and lasted a little longer,” she said.

Shelter staff and volunteers cannot be sure why more kittens than usual were brought in toward the end of 2013, Wegener said, though warmer temperatures last winter may have been a factor.“So they kind of never stopped breeding,” Wegener said. Litters of kittens brought to the shelter often come from Clallam County residents who have found them on their property and do not have the resources to take care of them, Wegener explained.

Similar population booms are not really seen in dogs, since they tend to reproduce more slowly and are let loose and left to their own devices less often than cats. “Dogs are kind of always your pet,” Wegener said, adding that the shelter currently has 20 dogs in its care.“Cats can be feral and can be free-roaming.” If needed, Wegener said, the earliest the shelter would hold another cat adoption promotion likely would be in the spring.

Shelter hours are from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, visit www.ophumanesociety.org ; or email info@ophumanesociety.org.

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