Summer means full cages and kennels at Mansfield Animal Care & Control. What surprises the shelter staff is from where the dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are coming.
“We’ve got a whole lot of owner surrenders, almost more than strays, numerous per day,” said Lori Strittmatter, animal care and control manager. “(Owners say) they are moving, allergic, animals are out of control and they don’t want to try training.”
The shelter has gotten creative in finding new homes for their four-legged tenants. For the past year, the Mansfield shelter has held Free Feline Fridays, offering free cats and kittens one day per week. Starting this week, the shelter expands that to include canines with Fun Furry Free Fridays. The free adoptions include the first set of shots and a microchip. Adoption fees the rest of the week range from $20-$70, and include the first set of shots and a city license.
And from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 16, the Mansfield shelter will participate -- along with most of the shelters in the North Texas area -- in Empty the Shelter, when no animal will have an adoption fee, Strittmatter said.
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All dogs and cats adopted from the shelter will have to be spayed or neutered within 30 days, longer for very young kittens and puppies, and receive a rabies shot within seven days.
Potential pet owners who want to bring home a new member of the family should do some research, said Marilyn Wallen, the shelter’s lead kennel tech.
“Knowing what you’re looking for will help us,” Wallen said. “Are there other dogs or cats or kids? Do they jog? Do they have babies?”
A lot of people who bring a pet into their home don’t understand how much it will cost to care for the animal or how much responsibility a pet can be, she said.
“This is a living, breathing, warm and furry, feeling animal,” Wallen said. “You take your kids to the doctor for their shots and well-being. Do you have the money to take your pet to the vet? Do you have the compassion to let them go when they’re really sick and hurting?”
The responsibility can lead to the owner not taking proper care of the animal or surrendering it to the shelter, Wallen said.
“You don’t put it in the back yard and throw Ol Roy out there once a week,” she said. “It’s inconvenient at the holidays and in the summer. We had an animal brought in because they didn’t have anyone to care for it when they were on vacation.”
People can be surprised at how long the responsibility will last, too, she said. The average light expectancy for a cat is 14 years, while large dogs usually live six to eight years and small dogs 14 to 15 years, Wallen said, although they can live much longer.
Anyone who wants to help but doesn’t have the time or means to adopt a pet can still help, Strittmatter said.
“If a dog is sick, but still adoptable, we take them to the vet,” she said. “We have the Lucky Fund that pays for them from donations, things like broken legs or mange. For a two-week period, not one animal came in that didn’t need care.”
People can also donate directly to the shelter to pay for things like paint. Other groups, like the Boy Scouts and Leadership Mansfield, have donated their time on projects for the shelter. Other needs include dry cat food, non-clumping cat litter, Dawn dish soap, cans of cat food, laundry detergent packs, Pedigree small dog food packets or canned food, Milk Bone treats, Kong dog toys, Science Diet Small Bites, large bath towels or cat toys.