Economy affecting pet adoptions for better or worse
Depending on the shelter, adoptions have either gone down or up with financial downturn
A young dog waits to be adopted at the Washington County Humane Society in Hagerstown. (Yvette May, Staff Photographer)
In both cases, shelter officials say the economy played a role.
"The decrease has to do with the economy," said Michael Mahrer, director of development and marketing for Briggs Animal Adoption Center in Charles Town, W.Va.
"It seems people are having bigger hearts because of the economy," said Brandi Bowers, manager of the Berkeley County Humane Society in Martinsburg, W.Va. "We noticed that in this bad economic time, even our harder-to-adopt ones are going."
Most area shelters experienced a recent increase in adoptions.
In a three-year comparison, the Humane Society of Washington County in Hagerstown saw a 19 percent increase in adoptions, Executive Director Paul Miller said.
In fiscal 2009, the Washington County shelter had 316 adoptions for the period of July to October, he said.
That number increased to 323 for the same period of fiscal year 2010 and jumped to 401 for the current fiscal year.
There is no clear answer to the question of why adoption figures rise and fall, Miller said.
Briggs reported a similar increase for the first part of its current fiscal year, but Mahrer also said total adoptions for fiscal year 2010 decreased from fiscal year 2009.
Bowers said the Berkeley County Humane Society also saw an increase in adoptions, but she did not offer any data collected by the shelter.
Despite reports of adoptions on the rise in Washington, Berkeley and Jefferson counties, the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter in Chambersburg, Pa., saw a general, albeit minimal, decline in adoptions in calendar year 2010, said Jennifer Vanderau, director of communications for the shelter.
In December 2010, Cumberland Valley adopted out 27 cats and 11 dogs, she said.
That was down from the previous December, when the shelter adopted out 39 cats and 20 dogs in 2009, she said.
Adopting out animals to good homes is a tough job that has a special set of challenges beyond the economy, Vanderau said.
Looking at adoption numbers alone does not give the full picture, she said.
The greatest challenge of adopting out animals is not economy, but matching the right animal with the right person, Vanderau said.
People often visit a shelter with preconceived notions of the animal they want to adopt, she said.
Miller said it is common for someone to describe their ideal dog to shelter staff as a trained, calm, adult dog, but be drawn to the puppies.