SPCA offers discount on cat, dog adoptions

Posted: October 31, 2012

The Winchester Star

In hopes of avoiding the overcrowding that led to a free-adoption weekend in September, the SPCA is offering a Halloween special of $30 off adoptions through the weekend. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — About a month after giving away almost all of its adoptable cats and dogs, the crates at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Winchester and Frederick and Clarke Counties are starting to fill up again.

So in the hopes of avoiding the overcrowding that led to a free-adoption weekend in September, the SPCA is offering a Halloween special of $30 off adoptions through the weekend.

“Our adoptions have been going very well,” said Paul Frappollo, president of the SPCA’s board of directors. “The problem is that they’re coming in faster than they’re going out.”

Today through Sunday during regular shelter hours, it will cost only $65 to adopt a cat or dog that’s been spayed or neutered or $45 for an animal that has not been spayed or neutered. People adopting animals that have not been altered receive a coupon for $45 off the procedure.

The normal rates are $95 for a spayed or neutered animal and $75 for one that has not been altered, with the coupon toward spaying or neutering.

To alleviate a severe overcrowding problem, the SPCA gave away 83 cats and 15 dogs Sept. 29 and 30. Several weeks earlier, it had offered a $30 off special on adoptions.

Despite those specials, 66 cats and a few dogs remained at the shelter at 115 Featherbed Lane. The animals were either too young to adopt out, were mothers nursing their young, were sick or were captured strays that had to be held a specified period to give owners a chance to reclaim them.

The population already has grown to 94 cats and 16 dogs, Frappollo said, and the desire is to “stem the tide before it gets to that 150 mark again.”

The organization is having to resort to special promotions for several reasons.

Mild winter weather and a generally warm fall have extended the amount of times that cats reproduce, Frappollo said. “Kitten season” usually doesn’t end until the weather turns cold, which it did for the first time this week, prompting cats to stop reproducing.

“If their biology tells them it’s OK to have kittens,” he said, “they go into heat. We just need to get the cats to stop reproducing like crazy. Hopefully, this should be the last surge we should get.”

In addition to the extended mating season, the SPCA’s board decided this year to try to avoid euthanizing animals if possible. That means animals are held longer.

Data provided by Frappollo shows that fewer animals were brought into SPCA through the first three quarters of 2012 when compared with 2011. The shelter had taken in 807 cats and 387 dogs in 2012, down from the 925 cats and 461 dogs it received from January through September in 2011.

But the number of animals leaving the shelter via adoption, rescue or return to owner is way up. As of Sept. 30, 492 cats and 378 dogs had been adopted this year compared to 285 cats and 386 dogs during the same period in 2011.

“Our goal is not to put down an animal unless there’s no other recourse,” Frappollo said. “We do everything we can to find a forever home for the animals.”

A third contributing issue is the shelter itself. Frappollo said it’s smaller than it should be for the area and population it’s serving.

Steps have been taken toward alleviating that problem, too. He said the SPCA board recently voted to allocate money to start design and site-plan work for a new facility to be built at the current site.

The building will be about 7,500 square feet. The current shelter is 3,700 square feet and has another 1,100 square feet of storage in another building on the property, but Frappollo said those structures aren’t designed as efficiently as the new one will be.

The project, he said, is expected to cost between $1.5 million and $2 million and hopefully will be completed by spring 2014.

— Contact Vic Bradshaw at vbradshaw@winchesterstar.com