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Doggone it: Humane Society ran out of pooches

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Cathy Dobson  

For the first time in memory, the kennels at the Sarnia and District Humane Society fell silent recently.

“We had no dogs here for two days. Everyone was adopted out,” executive director Donna Pyette said. “It’s never happened before, as far as we know.”

Long-term staff who have worked for 30 years at the animal shelter on Exmouth Street couldn’t recall a time when there were no dogs.”

“It’s crazy,” said Pyette. “I’m thrilled, but I don’t know why this happened.”

Intake numbers at the shelter are unchanged but the adoption rate jumped 40% this month over July of 2014. In just three weeks, 92 cats and dogs were adopted, and about half were dogs. Usually that number is closer to 40 or 50. In a single day, 17 adoptions took place.

Pyette said a big decrease in the cost of adopting cats helped boost feline adoptions, but she’s hard pressed to say why the shelter was cleared of dogs, even for a short time.

By the end of last week it had a handful of dogs and five dozen cats. Euthanasia rates this year are down 45% for dogs and cats.

“It’s extremely rare that we euthanize a dog,” Pyette said. “We do it only in extreme medical cases or if the animal is extremely aggressive.”

“I’d have to say that people are stepping up. I’d like to think Sarnia is turning even more pet-friendly.” Perhaps more people are getting their pets neutered and spayed.

New strategies could also be having an impact. For instance, there’s a new focus on long-term fostering, said Pyette.

The owner of the Fox & Hound Canine Retreat in Sarnia has taken several dogs with new litters for as long as two months.

“It’s real outreach for the shelter. Someone brought a stray lab in and she had nine pups that night,” said Pyette. “The Fox & Hound took them all temporarily and adopted mom and five of the pups out. We can’t thank them enough.”

Then there are local stores like Pet Valu and Pet Smart that keep shelter animals at their shops, giving the pets available for adoption greater exposure and a better chance of finding a home.

It’s quiet at the shelter this month, but Pyette knows that can change in a heartbeat.

“Having no dogs for two days was amazing. We usually have 12 to 20 this time of year,” she said.

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