By Justin Sondel
Last month, the SPCA of Niagara was up to its ears in cats and dogs.
But following a successful holiday push, many of the Lockport Road animal shelter’s kennels are now empty.
“We actually have very few dogs in our adoption kennels,” said Amy Lewis, executive director of the SPCA of Niagara.
That’s a significant change from a few weeks ago when overcrowding at the shelter prompted agency officials to put out a public plea for help in finding loving homes for dozens of stray dogs and cats.
Lewis said the shelter has managed to find homes for 296 animals since the Nov. 25 implementation of a special adoption promotion that waives fees for animals six months old and older.
She credited part of the success to a letter issued last month by SPCA officials who bluntly described the dire situation facing the shelter at the time. At the height of its overcrowding crisis, the shelter was inundated with stray animals to the point where it had too many for the available kennel space.
Some of the dogs that come in are too violent to put in people’s homes and the shelter’s small staff and volunteers do not always have the time or resources to rehabilitate these animals, SPCA officials have said. In her letter, Lewis said the shelter is often faced with a difficult situation in its quest to remain a “no-kill” facility.
Lewis said the shelter does everything it can to avoid euthanizing animals, even when they are running over capacity.
“We want to avoid it at any costs,” Lewis said.
She feels that her more “raw” description of the challenges the shelter faced helped spur the recent spike in adoptions.
“Just about every weekend since (the promotion began) we’ve had cars lined up at the gate before we open,” Lewis said.
She stressed that the shelter, while more roomy in recent days, is always looking to match available animals with suitable owners. The SPCA’s current adoption promotion runs through Dec. 30 and individuals interested in adding a pet to their home are encouraged to visit during shelter hours.
The SPCA’s adoption fee schedule for 2014 will be as follows: adult dogs six months old and older, $110; puppies, $225; senior dogs (10 years old and older), fee will be waived; varying adoption fees for small breed, pure breed and exotic animals; kittens, $100; cats six months old to three years old, $60; and cats three years old and older, fee waived.