HUNTINGTON — The Huntington Cabell Wayne Animal Shelter is implementing multiple policy changes in order to raise its number of successful adoptions and tackle pet overpopulation in the New Year.

Executive Director Courtney Proctor Cross said the shelter will now require adoption applications to help match pets with the right owner, and all animals will have basic veterinary care prior to beginning life with their new caretakers.

Dog adoptions will be $125 and will include spay or neuter services, rabies, distemper, parvo and Bordetella vaccines, flea and tick prevention, dewormer and heartworm testing for animals over 6 months old. Cat adoptions will be $65 and include spay and neuter services, rabies and FVRCP vaccines, feline leukemia and FIV testing, flea prevention and dewormer.

Adoption fees also will include a wellness visit with a local veterinarian.

Previously, adoption fees were $95 for dogs and $45 for cats.

“We’ve been talking about these changes for a long time, and we’re starting a new year and a new decade, so we thought ‘Let’s get everything in place and let’s just go for it,’” Cross said. “We’re all working together to make sure that the animals are valued, well cared for, vetted and as healthy as can be.”

Cross said she hopes the use of applications will help eliminate impulse adoptions for those who may not be prepared to take home a pet.

“We feel that it’s better for the animals in trying to make good matches for them,” Cross said. “The first person to walk through the door and say ‘I want that pet’ may not be the best match for the pet, so with the application we can screen and really talk to people about what they’re looking for, will these pets meet their needs, and also see if they’ve been responsible pet owners in the past and provide some adoption counseling.”

Pre-adoption counseling will provide those interested in adopting with information about the animal’s behavior, special needs and future costs, Cross said.

Cross said ensuring each animal adopted out is spayed or neutered is the only way to truly combat the growing number of stray animals in the area.

“In the past, when people adopted animals, they always received a spay and neuter certificate, but I would say at least 65% of the time people did not take advantage of that, and the animals were not spayed or neutered,” Cross said. “If we’re ever going to get a handle on the pet overpopulation problem, we’ve got to start by making sure that the animals we adopt out are spayed and neutered. It’s been a long time coming, and we’re finally at a place where we can make this happen.”

Along with the changes, the shelter also will begin using a web-based organizational software, launch a new website and provide applications for those interested in fostering pets.

“It was kind of a pipe dream when I started in August 2018; it was kind of part of the wish list,” Cross said of the improvements. “We feel only positive things will result from making these changes.”

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