Animal Services launches 'Empty Our Shelters Challenge'

Local shelters, faced with overcrowding, reach out to potential adopters

Plagued by overcrowding, all six animal shelters in Silicon Valley, including City of Palo Alto Animal Services, are now encouraging qualified adopters in the area to step up and help empty the shelters in honor of National Adopt-a-Shelter Dog month.

Through Oct. 16, each participating shelter is offering some form of special pricing to attract locals to take cats, dogs and rabbits home for immediate adoption.

"It is certainly a bad time of the year" for shelter overcrowding, said Sandy Stadler, superintendent of City of Palo Alto Animal Services. "After spring and summer, we are having a lot of babies born."

The current state of the economy, according to Stadler, also has an impact on animal shelters in the area.

"People lost their jobs or homes. And for whatever reasons, they are giving up their animals," she said.

The pressure on shelters has been high. Stadler said there are now more animals being sent into the shelters than those taken out every day.

"We are a small shelter. All the kennels are full," she said. "Though residents are really responsive, we are still overwhelmed."

The shelter has 12 kennels. On Wednesday (Oct. 5), six animals were adopted but there were nine more coming in.

At City of San Jose Animal Care and Services, where the shelter is much bigger, the situation is not any better.

"In one day, for example, they could have 30 animals taken by adopters. But there would be 60 on the way in," Stadler said.

To help relieve the overcapacity issue, all shelters in the area have rolled out special pricing for interested adopters and are now mirroring each other in the effort.

"We really hope to have animals re-homed and find a good home. For those who come before Oct. 15 to our shelter, we are offering a huge discount on dogs, cats and rabbits," Stadler said.

Originally priced at $100 each, adopting a dog is now $50, or a cat, $10. A rabbit is now $10, versus $30 before the special pricing.

But Stadler added that adopting an animal is not the same as shopping at a supermarket.

"There are requirements," she said.

Stadler said that staff members look at the various credentials of a potential adopter. They check if the potential family lives in a dwelling where animals are accepted and consider the potential adopter's lifestyle.

"If we perceive that the animal's habits and lifestyle match that of the potential owner's, we will ask every member of the household to meet the animal and make sure everyone is comfortable with the animal, and vice versa," she said.

More information about adopting an animal from City of Palo Alto Animal Services is available online or by calling 650-496-5971.

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Like this comment
Posted by Janet Anderson
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm

It would be great if more apartments and house rentals allow pets. That would save some of the shelter dogs and cats as owners are forced to downsize to an apt but apts don't allow pets. pets are tidier than toddlers - i've yet to see a dog take a crayola to the wall.

Like this comment
Posted by Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2011 at 7:46 pm

They make it really tough to adopt a pet with all their conditions, such as keeping them indoors all the time. If they were a little more flexible, people would more readily adopt abandoned pets IMHO.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 7, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Midtowner, once the animal is yours, frankly, you can change the rules. The indoor/outdoor cat debate is decades old!

Frankly, the bigger shelters are way worse off than the Palo Alto shelter, who do a great job.

Please also note that many shelters can use volunteers to foster animals if they're good w/a particular species or breed. It's not for everyone, but it can save lives & if you're not ready for a permanent pet, fostering is a wonderful way to help shelter overcrowding.

Honestly, part of why we still live where we do is because we can have pets. They help keep us safe as well & we recognize how lucky we are to be able to have them in a rental.

Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 7, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Just heartbreaking.

It would be great if people would consider adoption, rather than purchasing from breeders. There are many pure bred dogs at shelters, in addition to the wonderful mutts.

Like this comment
Posted by No
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2011 at 11:01 pm

More dogs off leash and dog poop on our school lawns and sidewalks. Not what this city needs.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 8, 2011 at 12:48 am

No - I understand your concerns, I think, because I share them. But, the animals need homes & I think it's great that these shelters are doing outreach. Besides, there are more than just dogs available for adoption :-)

Like this comment
Posted by DogLover
a resident of another community
on Oct 8, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I heard that the quarry shooter was caught when a homeowner's dog alerted the owners to an intruder. Owning a dog is better than an alarm or a gun. Your dog makes you aware to what is going on around you, so you can react appropriately.

Getting a dog from a shelter is a win-win. Many times, these dogs are already trained and socialized and extremely grateful to be rescued. I have two dogs from shelters (one was adopted right before she was scheduled to be euthanized). There is nothing wrong with my dogs, they are perfect. My dogs love kids, came completely housebroken and are a joy.

As far as off leash dogs and poop in yards, that is not a problem created by a dog, but an irresponsible owner. A dog that is pooping in someone else's yard (and not being cleaned up after by the owner) and running around off-leash, needs to be rescued and put in a loving home.

Like this comment
Posted by No
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Hasn't this been an ongoing problem for decades? Too many greedy owners wanting to breed their dogs for money? Can't the government stop this and require all dogs to be spayed and neutered before they are sold? And require breeders to have permits? Or is it that people adopt them and give them up? I don't think it's right that there are so many unwanted dogs who have to be euthanized each year. Here are the stats from the US Humane Society:

Estimated number of cats and dogs entering shelters each year:

6-8 million (HSUS estimate)

Estimated number of cats and dogs euthanized by shelters each year:

3-4 million (HSUS estimate)

Estimated number of cats and dogs adopted from shelters each year:

3-4 million (HSUS estimate)

Estimated number of cats and dogs reclaimed by owners from shelters each year:

30 percent of dogs and 2-5 percent of cats entering shelters (HSUS estimate)

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by No
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2011 at 4:00 pm

@Doglover: Even dogs from loving homes crap on other people's property. In fact, the ones from loving homes are the ones who are walked an off leash. My children have stepped in dog poop at Jordan three times, and dog poop is a recurring problem at elementary schools. Even if dog owners pick up the poop, there is residue. If the dog poop is considered okay on lawns, then the owners should pick it up with their bare hands because children can fall on lawns after poop is picked up. Imagine their hand falling into poop residue and then they go eat a sandwich. Thanks, dog owners who love their dogs more than children. Dog owners are selfish people.

Like this comment
Posted by DogLover
a resident of another community
on Oct 8, 2011 at 8:09 pm

In California, where people love the outdoors, s*** happens. And it isn't always from dogs.

Birds can poop on your head when you are standing outside, on your lawn. Shall we outlaw birds?

Racoons, cats, squirrels, rabbits, possums, even humans (gross) have been known to poop outside. In fact, it's probably more likely that you will have touched rodent poop. That's right, roof rats! Mice! Where do you think they poop? Probably the best way to not touch poop of any kind would be to stay in bed and not go outdoors at all.

Get over it. And please teach your children to wash their hands before eating a sandwich. They probably have touched a lot of worse things than dog poop already.

Like this comment
Posted by dirty
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 8, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Ummm,they are so dirty,change it.

Like this comment
Posted by HawkeyePierce
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 10, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Typical of many Shallow Altans: getting obsessed with dog excrement, rather than the point of the story, which is to find homes for many species of pets. How interesting that those who have so much focus on the waste product and irresponsible owners of some pets. It's nice that there are some reasonable voices on this thread. This is about animals, not excrement.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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