Wait period added to give pets a better chance at new life

In this Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020 photo, Petey, one of the shelter dogs up for adoption, watches a group of people pass by as the Huntington Cabell Wayne Animal Shelter conducts a "New Year/New Life" adoption event on Sunday, January 5, 2020, at the Mountain Health Arena in Huntington. W.Va. (Ryan Fischer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)

By TAYLOR STUCK The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — As dog barks echoed off the walls of the Mountain Health Network Arena lobby in downtown Huntington Sunday afternoon (Jan. 5), several cats — and some dogs, too — cowered at the craziness around them.

One orange and white fluffy kitten, however, was as cool as a cucumber.

Wizard laid belly-up in Jaedon Kinser’s arms for at least 30 minutes as Kinser and Candyce Craft decided whether he was the one they wanted to take home forever. Wizard’s chill attitude quickly won them over.

“He’s going to be a great cuddle buddy,” Craft said, smiling wide as she looked at Wizard lounging in his new carrier.

Wizard was among the animals up for adoption Sunday at the Huntington Cabell Wayne Animal Shelter’s New Year/New Life event in the civic arena. Partnering with Advocates Saving Adoptable Pets, or ASAP, the day included a Huntington Police Department K9 demonstration, a dog showcase by MickSparkins Petcare, music, a quilt raffle and a cake walk.

Between the shelter and ASAP, there were more than 50 dogs and cats in the arena for adoption.

It was the first year of the arena adoption event where, for the most part, no one actually left with a pet in hand, or on leash in this case.

The shelter now requires adoption applications to help match pets with the right owner.

This means there is a wait time between application acceptance and leaving with your new pet, which is also now spayed/neutered before they are free to go.

Dog adoptions are now $125 and include spay or neuter services, rabies, distemper, parvo and Bordetella vaccines, flea and tick prevention, dewormer and heartworm testing for animals over 6 months old. Cat adoptions are $65 and include spay and neuter services, rabies and FVRCP vaccines, feline leukemia and FIV testing, flea prevention and dewormer.

Adoption fees also include a wellness visit with a local veterinarian.

Courtney Proctor Cross, executive director at the shelter, said she has heard only positive feedback to the changes.

“People are really appreciative of the changes and appreciate the waiting period,” Cross said. “It removes impulsive decision-making. It gives people some time to think about what all it means to adopt a pet and removes the chance of buyer’s remorse.”

Ensuring the pets that enter the shelter find good homes is critical to stop the cycle of unwanted pets ending up on the street and back in the shelter.

The need to end that cycle was clear (last) weekend. Cross said the shelter took in 17 dogs and 13 cats Saturday alone, pushing the shelter to capacity.

Cross said the shelter’s new website will launch in the next few weeks. She hopes it will encourage more people to adopt and speed up the adoption process by allowing people to fill out the adoption application ahead of time.