As the holidays approach, the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association is working with the public, as it does year round, to help find families for the more than 200 animals it has in its care.
On Saturday, members of the association set up shop at Capitol Market, with five dogs and five cats ready to go home to families. Three were adopted, said Sarah Tolley, community engagement coordinator at KCHA.
“Capitol Market is also a nonprofit, like us, so it’s really cool having a nonprofit support a nonprofit,” Tolley said. “Everyone wins here.”
Tolley said that during the winter months, animal intakes are actually down in numbers, but the animals that do come in tend to be more serious cases, meaning they’re more malnourished or need more medical attention, which means more money for care.
“That’s where most of our expenses come from, keeping the lights on and medical care for the animals,” Tolley said.
Adoptions, though, tend to rise. Black Friday, which is the day after Thanksgiving, is the largest adoption day for the shelter, and this year is set to be no different.
The association will open its doors at 8 a.m. and coordinate adoptions until 8 p.m. The best part, Tolley said, is that thanks to a sponsorship, the adoptions are virtually free.
Last year, 93 animals left the shelter with new homes. This year they hope to beat that number, and with 150 dogs and 100 cats eligible for adoption, it’s not impossible.
During the holidays, people may consider adopting a pet as a gift, but Tolley said that individuals should be sure to think through the responsibilities involved.
“If you’re going to go and get a puppy, you have to be sure you’re a patient person,” Tolley said. “A schedule is the most important thing, especially for getting them housebroken and trained, and if you can’t provide that, it may not be a good fit.”
Maddie Cochran, who works adoptions at the shelter, said any animal can be trained if there is time and effort.
“Patience, it takes a lot of patience and consistency,” Cochran said. “If you’re willing to provide that, then any animal can learn.”
During the holidays, Tolley said many people grow nostalgic for pets they had growing up, and may come to the shelter looking for a similar breed or personality.
“That’s always fun, because when it works out, you get to see how happy the person is, and the animal, as well,” Tolley said.
While many people looking to adopt opt for puppies and kittens, Tolley said older animals have benefits of their own.
They’re already housebroken, she said, and they tend to be calmer.
“That’s better for companionship, sometimes,” Tolley said. “You don’t have to go run 3 miles to tire them out so they won’t tear up the house. They can just relax.”
If someone is unsure if they’re ready to commit to a pet, Tolley said the holidays are a great time to foster animals.
Interested individuals can contact the shelter, tell them a bit about their home life, and get matched up with a temporary companion. Most foster animals will stay in the home for two to six weeks.
“It’s good for us, too, because we get to learn more about the animal,” Tolley said.
A kennel is a different environment than a home, so by fostering, those at the shelter can hear feedback about how a dog is with cats or children, and if there are any problems with it being house-broken.
If someone is interested in supporting the Humane Association, but isn’t looking to adopt this holiday season, Tolley said that donations are always welcome, whether they come in the form of food, toys, paper towels or money.
“Every little bit helps and, you know, it is the season of giving,” Tolley said. “If none of that is possible, people can always come volunteer.”
Cochran said volunteers are always appreciated, no matter how small their tasks are.
“If you can come in and just spend a few hours holding cats or walking dogs, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is,” she said. “The animals can always use a bit more love and attention. Whatever someone has to give will be helpful.”