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I was disappointed Thursday night when very little discussion took place regarding our new Hall County Animal Shelter giving pets away during the worst time of the year for pets, December and Christmas.
I understand after talking with Commissioner Steve Gailey the view of giving the pets a second chance. I also understand that the winter months are typically the slowest adoption time of the year.
I just don’t believe this is the answer to finding appropriate homes for these pets that have already been displaced once. If people are willing to walk away from homes that they had no vested financial interest in, they will do the same for a pet if times get tough.
So, they get the free dog or cat. Let’s say all 375 are given away in December. That’s a financial loss to the county of $24,375 based on a normal $65 adoption fee.
I know we are already operating in the red when the county maintains a full-time veterinarian, performs heart-worm testing, rabies shots, spay and neuter, microchipping and other health vaccines. Local veterinarians would charge a minimum of $270 for those same services. That comes to $93,750. This new facility cost the county $2 million.
Our Hall County government has absorbed $69,375 for these 375 pets. It appears the adoption fee is already a great deal for anyone wanting an instant pet.
I did not hear director Mike Ledford speak specifically on how he intends to follow up on the adoptions. How does he propose to follow these pets for the next 12 months? How will he track these pets to make sure they are not returned to our shelter or to any other shelter?
In 12 months, the owners will need to take the pets to a local veterinarian to check for heartworms, rabies shot, other vaccines and a fecal smear. Local veterinarians charge $120. Feeding a medium dog two cups of kibble a day, even buying the low-end chow, will cost the new owner around $250 a year. Heartworm medicine is another $70 a year, and flea prevention $50 annually. Thus your new pet should cost annually a minimum of $400 a year.
When these free animals are returned to the shelter, we will have to vet the poor abandoned pet again, costing taxpayers again for the basic services excluding spay and neuter and the microchip. But just the same, it will cost the taxpayers a second time.
Christmas pets are usually an impulse deal. I just don’t see how Hall County and the poor animal are going to benefit from this free program.
We should focus our attention on publicity of the new shelter and how the shelter benefits the county. The more we educate people the better off these animals will be. Build your support and volunteer staff correctly and you will find the appropriate pet owners.