Animal adoption rates in the county are continuing to see an increase, according to Loudon County Animal Shelter statistics.
Shelter manager Shasta Raby said social media and increasing the animals’ presence in the community have played a positive role in the uptick.
Raby said this time of year the shelter is busy with adoptions, though it typically takes in more animals as well, as puppies and kittens are weaned from their mothers. She said animal intake usually peaks in August.
Compared to last year, January and February saw fewer animals being taken into the shelter but more animals in March, April and May, Raby said.
“They will say, ‘I’ve tried every way in the world to find it a home, and I can’t’,” Raby said. “They will sign it over, and they will say, ‘You’re not going to put it to sleep are you?’ They just sat right there and told us they have one dog that they’ve tried to find a home for and couldn’t, and we have rooms full of dogs.
“I can’t promise anybody,” she said. “It’s hard to place some of them, and I know this time of year everyone has the same problem. All the shelters do. The shelters get full, the rescue groups get full, but every month our adopted and rescued number is way higher than the euthanized number, so that is always a good thing. We also have a lot of animals get claimed from here.”
Raby said the shelter had a 74 percent adoption rate in May with a 26 percent euthanasia rate.
The shelter, partnering with local agencies like the Loudon County Humane Society, is making its presence known, hoping to place more animals in loving homes.
Raby said the shelter now posts adoptable animals on its Facebook page, on the Petfinder adoption website and brings animals to the Turkey Creek PetSmart to increase exposure.
“We try to get out in the community a little bit more,” Raby said.
The shelter manager said she welcomes the change in technology and an increased social media presence when it comes to animal adoptions.
“I think it gives more exposure for the animals,” Raby said. “We get phone calls on a daily basis about animals that are here that they saw online somewhere — not just Petfinder, but they will see them on people’s Facebook sites.”
She added that she hopes to beef up the shelter’s website and add adoptable animals to the site as well.
Loudon County Humane Society President Betty Brown believes the society’s spay/neuter program has also played a positive effect on adoption and euthanasia rates. The program offers free vouchers every month for low-income Loudon County residents.
“I would love to have a no-kill shelter if it was up to me, but since it’s a county organization it can’t be a no-kill shelter, although the animals we do put down are animals that are viscous, like they have bitten somebody or in such bad health that they can’t survive,” Brown said. “I know that the spay/ neuter (voucher program) has really lowered the number of puppies and kittens coming in to the animal shelter because more people are bringing them in to get them spayed and neutered. We are tickled to death that the number of animals coming in has decreased greatly.”
The next voucher issue date will be July 6 at the Roane State Community College campus in Lenoir City. Brown said the humane society will continue funding the spay/neuter voucher program in the future.
To further increase an animal’s chances of getting adopted, the shelter has been participating in a “puppy train” program, where crates of puppies are shuttled to northern states for adoption. Raby said the shelter will soon expand and participate in a similar program for felines.
While the shelter typically takes in fewer animals in the winter, Raby said adoption rates usually skyrocket in November and December.
“At that time people are wanting kittens and things like that that we don’t really have yet,” Raby said. “Usually, September or October it will kind of slack off a little bit.”
Raby said the euthanasia rate has steadily decreased in recent years.
“That rate this time of year is mainly the wildlife, the raccoons and things that are brought to us that are caught by people, and feral cats,” Raby said. “Spring and summer is also a really bad time because a lot of dogs (are) coming into heat, and that causes the males that are still intact to become aggressive. It’s not unusual for us to deal with a lot of dog bites at this time. ... We very rarely, rarely every euthanize for lack of space.”