Amid Criticism, PAWS Defends Free Adoptions As Shelter is Full
SAN ANGELO, TX -- In an effort to prevent the euthanasia of adoptable pets, Concho Valley PAWS is hosting a series of special promotions from now through year's end to encourage pet adoption.
PAWS has been offering reduced and free events since they began their shelter pet program in partnership with the City of San Angelo Animal Services in 2017.
"Free events is not something we were always comfortable doing." said Jenie Wilson, PAWS Executive Director. Wilson has been the director of Concho Valley PAWS since 2009, and it has only been in recent years that the organization has embraced the idea. "Like other area rescues, PAWS used to charge over $100 for adoptions. I believe our adoption fees were $165 when we began this project." Wilson said. "Like many others, we thought the amount of money an adopter invested, the more committed an adopter would be to the pet. We discovered we were wrong. Research has proven that there is not a correlation between the amount a person pays for a pet and how well the pet is treated or if the pet remains in the home permanently. High adoption fees are actually a deterrent to adoptions." Wilson said.
As PAWS prepared a response to the City of San Angelo's Request for Proposal for an adoption partner in 2016, they conducted a lot of research into the no-kill movement. "This was our chance to really make a change so we wanted to know how successful, sustainable no-kill communities had made the transition. One of the things we learned was these communities had adoption promotions that allowed for reduced fee and free events. These shelters and rescues did not depend on adoption revenue to recoup veterinary expenses but instead sought the help of donors and businesses as sponsors. The amount of research done on the topic was impressive and eye opening. It changed our perception of free events." Wilson said.
"Critics have accused us of devaluing the pets. I couldn't disagree more. I think we showed their value by not allowing them to be killed for space. I think it shows how we value pets when individuals and businesses will donate towards the adoption fee to save the life of a pet they are not adopting for themselves." Wilson said.
Many have expressed concerns that the wrong kind of adopter shows up to a free event and Wilson says that PAWS hasn't experienced that issue. "When you adopt from us there is a screening process. You will have to present a valid photo ID to adopt and we do have a database we check for criminal offenses including animal related offenses. Furthermore, we have an interview process that you must complete that helps us get to know you better as an adopter. If there are any red flags, we will pause and consider the information and come to a decision." Wilson said.
We follow the same format as American Pets Alive, Austin Pets Alive, and Best Friends. These are hugely successful organizations and we lean heavily on their research and their experiences. So far, we have been pleased with how the protocols work. A screening process cannot guarantee an adoption will be successful, but it definitely helps." Wilson said. "When you work in field where you face the challenges that we do in animal rescue, you have to be willing to bend, to be open minded and to do whatever we can to responsibly save lives. And that's what we are doing."
The shelter is full. But despite the constant struggle for space and time, no healthy adoptable pet has been euthanized for space in over a year. That is a huge success for this community. The San Angelo Animal shelter used to kill over 80% of the dogs and cats that entered the facility. Last year, the partnership program netted an average live release rate of 64%. In recent months, with even more new programs in place such as the Feral Neuter & Release Program for cats, the facility has experienced a live release rate of over 70%. "Our ultimate goal is 90% live release rate." Wilson said. "We are committed to saving as many as we can. Euthanasia as a means of animal control is simply not an acceptable option."
"The shelter is full, we want to find ways to motivate people who have thought about adopting a pet to come in and meet some of the amazing pets currently at the shelter. With over 200 dogs and 200 cats, we have everything from puppies and kittens to seniors, mutts and pure breds, large and small and sweet or sassy temperaments. Chances are you will find a pet that is right for you and your family". Wilson said.
Concho Valley PAWS is currently celebrating responsible pet parents. If you currently have a pet that is spayed or neutered, you can adopt for FREE from not until the end of the year. In December, the organization will host its annual week long "Home for the Holidays" event, but you don't have to wait because there are currently approximately 20 dogs available for free at any time because they have been in the shelter near a year. These dogs are referred to as long stays and donors have covered their veterinary expenses.
Concho Valley PAWS also has a Senior for Senior Program where a senior citizen (55 or older) who qualifies can adopt a senior pet of 5 years or older for free. On Saturday, November 23, Concho Valley PAWS is having a special three hour "Fall In Love" Adoption Event where any pet adopted during this time is free to approved adopters. The shelter will be open to the public from 1pm-4pm.
The shelter is full and these animals are depending on us. Everyone can do something to help a shelter pet. If adoption is not an option for your family, please consider fostering, volunteering or donating. This is the time for us to come together to save them. We here time and again, 'you can't save them all'. Perhaps that is true, but why not try?" Wilson said.
For more information please contact Jenie Wilson, 325-656-3950.
Get more stories like this by signing up for our daily newsletter, The LIVE! Daily.