Summer is often equated with relaxation and a slower pace. But for animal shelters, the long days of summer can be the most stressful of the year.
“The numbers are overwhelming,” says Brittany Watson, director of shelter medicine and community engagement at the School of Veterinary Medicine. “You have cats reproducing, kittens that need intensive amounts of care, foster families to train, and surrenders from people going away for the summer. A large municipal shelter might be taking in 70, 80, 90 cats a day during the summer, in addition to many dogs.”
To help alleviate the burden and place as many animals as possible in “forever homes,” Penn Vet is joining an effort organized by NBC10 and Telemundo62 to co-sponsor the “Clear the Shelters” event on Saturday, July 23, at more than 30 Philadelphia-area animal shelters. Adoption fees will be waived for all pets adopted during the initiative. In 2015, Clear the Shelters resulted in more than 1,000 pet adoptions in the Philadelphia area.
On the day of the event, veterinarians and veterinary students from Penn’s Shelter Medicine program will attend the event at a couple of participating locations to answer questions and provide hand-outs on such topics as vaccination schedules, the importance of visiting a veterinarian, and how to prepare to bring a pet home.
Watson urges those interested in adopting a pet to honestly consider their lifestyle when deciding what type of pet they want.
“For some people, a dog is a better fit, and for some it’s a cat,” she says. “It’s always exciting to get a new puppy, but it’s also overwhelming. Older dogs, which are more established in their personalities and activity levels, might be better choices for some people.”
She also suggests coming to the shelter with a set of questions for the staff, who know the adoptable animals best.
“Everyone wants to make a great match so we can create a strong human-animal bond and make sure that pet stays in its home,” Watson says.
In addition, while some people do not have the time, energy, or interest to adopt a pet, Watson says there are plenty of other ways to relieve the burden on animal shelters and help pets find a good home.
“If now is not the right time to adopt and you want to support the shelter, you can come and volunteer to walk dogs or play with them,” she says. “You can foster animals, which directly saves animals lives by freeing up space in the facility and by giving animals time to be adopted. Or you can donate to the shelter. All of these things are just as important as adopting.”
For more information about the event, including a map of participating shelters and tips on preparing to adopt a pet, visit the NBC10 website.