Asheville – A sign on the doors of the Asheville Humane Society (AHS) informs visitors that it is not accepting any healthy stray dogs. Mabel Lujan, communications coordinator for the shelter, said they frequently operate at capacity. While AHS turns no pet in need away, it is asking the general public for help with the overflow problems.
On Friday, AHS was sheltering 514 cats and dogs. Lujan said owners have 72 hours to reclaim their pets after they have been taken in. After that, they will be put up for adoption. At this point, adoptions proceed on a first-come, first-served basis that does not exclude the owners.
Lujan said older and larger dogs are the hardest to adopt. In fact, the AHS just completed a campaign that, for a week, waived the $35 adoption fee for any dog over 6 months old and weighing over 35 pounds. Adoption fees run at or below $50 for all animals except small dogs, puppies, and horses. Each fee includes spaying or neutering, vaccination, and microchipping, as well as a bag of pet food.
No appointments are necessary for adoptions, except in the case of large barnyard animals that are stabled off-premises. Potential adopters need only shop online at ashevillehumane.org for an aminal they like and stop by 14 Forever Friends Lane sometime between 10 and 5, Tuesday through Saturday, with a proper leash or carrier. Adoption counselors will interview the candidate to make sure their personality, lifestyle, activities, and other pets will be compatible. When a match is made, the adopter needs only sign on the dotted line.
For those not ready to own a pet but eager to help out, Lujan said AHS supports a “huge foster team.” She explained that sometimes people bring animals to the shelter that it cannot support. To illustrate, she said somebody might show up with a litter of neonatal kittens.
Staff would then post a profile of the kittens on the online foster pages, which are accessible only to potential foster carers. When these carers see a post that interests them, they contact the shelter to begin the process. Foster carers need only be at least 18 years old, have their own reliable transportation, and live within 30 miles of the shelter if they are tending a small animal or 45 miles for larger animals. AHS pays for all supplies, medical attention, and food, except fresh vegetables.
Foster owners care for animals until they are adoptable, at which time they will be returned to the shelter. Lujan said other reasons for fostering pets include respiratory infections that would jeopardize other animals, recent surgery requiring frequent cleaning, or nursing. Some fostered pets, she said, are just “shelter shy” and need a little time away.
Given the overflow situation, finders of healthy strays are encouraged to keep them or find a neighbor to do so while searching for the owner. Lujan said this is because most lost pets are found in the vicinity of their homes. AHS will help with supplies if necessary.
To help furry friends find their way home, when pets are microchipped, they get a tag with a QR code. Anyone finding a stray with one of these tags can take it to one of over 20 scanning locations in the Asheville area. AHS’s lostpetsavl.org site has instructions for filing a report to have the chip company contact the owners.
While the chip company is searching for the owner, who may have moved without updating the pet’s information, the finder is asked to file a lost pet report with AHS, Pawboost, and Petco Love Lost and leverage social media. If the person finding the pet cannot keep it, or if the owner does not respond to attempts at contact, AHS will assume control of the pet. The shelter posts pictures of recently lost animals ashevillehumane.org, and encourages people looking for their lost pets to leverage social media as well.
Lujan says the shelter’s first priority is to keep pets and their loving owners together. While the on-site hospital is for strays, the AHS does offer spay and neuter services, vaccines, and flea and tick protection for people who would otherwise have to surrender their pets. It also provides links to organizations that provide charitable assistance for veterinary services or pet food. For pets with behavioral problems, AHS offers online advice as well as links to trainers.
AHS recently raised $66,000 for a mobile unit that should launch in October. It will bring spay and neuter services on-location and, hopefully in the near future, add surgical services.