All Kennels Full, Adoption Fees Waived
Animal shelters nationwide are packed to capacity and are struggling to find homes for dogs, and locally in Harford County, the situation is similar. To encourage dog adoptions, the Humane Society of Harford County (HSHC) is waiving adoption fees on dogs who are at least a year old.
“We are taking way more animals that we can adopt out, and it’s mainly dogs,” said Bob Citrullo, executive director of the Humane Society of Harford County (HSHC). “Dogs are also staying in the shelter longer these days which is stressful for the animals as well as the staff and volunteers who care for them. More animals and longer stays also stress the shelter system because the longer they stay, the more they cost.”
Citrullo says that the weight of inflation and economic uncertainty is forcing some pet owners to choose between paying the bills or feeding their pets. Over the last month, he says one of the primary reasons families bring their pets to the shelter is that they can’t afford veterinary care. “Affording pet food and basic veterinary care is one thing,” he says. “But what if your pet suddenly gets sick and needs surgery? Some of these surgeries are thousands of dollars.”
HSHC is booking surrender appointments out into July and August, hoping that adoptions will free up space in the meantime. Citrullo said the shelter is doing everything it can to try and help keep people’s four-legged family members in their homes. It offers a pet food pantry which has been in high demand. Recently, HSHC had to turn to the community after the shelves in the pantry emptied, prompting a plea on the shelter’s social media for donations.
“We’re getting creative and trying some new things,” Citrullo added. “We get that a lot of families might be anxious about committing to an adoption or adding a new dog if there are already other pets at home. So we’re letting them foster-to-adopt for a few weeks. If they adopt, great! If it doesn’t work out, it’s still a win because we learn more about the dog.”
Another program the shelter has re-instated is the Lonely Hearts Club to help decrease the length of stay for dogs who have been at the shelter for 4 months or more. The shelter has put a package together valued at $150 that includes a free 32-lb. bag of kibble as well as a 3-month supply of flea, tick and heartworm preventative.
HSHC is located at 2208 Connolly Road in Fallston or online at harfordshelter.org. The shelter is open Monday-Friday from 11-6, Saturdays from 10-5, and Sundays from 12-4.
If adoption is not an option, the shelter is looking for foster parents who can give a homeless dog a temporary place to live for a few weeks until space is available again. Foster parents provide love and care as well as valuable information about how the pet behaves in a home setting, and HSHC will provide supplies and medical care.
“If you need to bring your pet to the shelter because you can’t afford to feed him, talk to us first,” Citrullo said. “We have a pet food pantry. If you need help correcting an undesirable behavior, our partner trainer, Mutt Magic Training, offers free consultations. Our adoptions counselors can offer resources to help with other situations, so please talk to us before making your decision. Oftentimes, the best place for your dog is at home with you.”
About the Humane Society of Harford County
The Humane Society of Harford County, Inc., is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to the welfare and well-being of the approximately 2,500 animals that arrive each year. HSHC promotes the kind treatment of homeless, stray and abandoned animals by providing shelter, care, adoptions, and community education. HSHC is not a county agency nor is it affiliated with any national or regional organization. Tax-deductible donations, bequests, and proceeds from events are crucial to its life-saving efforts on behalf of the animals in the community.