Shelters waive adoption fees during special promotion
A few rabbits Saturday were running and hopping down the rows between hutches in this covered, outdoor shelter in Goleta. They seemed to jump magically from nowhere, then disappear just as quickly elsewhere in the shelter.
All that jumping around could mean just one thing.
“They jump up and do that twist (in the air). That’s the ultimate happy bunny,” volunteer Lori Crestfield told the News-Press inside the Bunnies Urgently Needing Shelter, which is home to nearly 80 rabbits.
Oh, and don’t forget the 16 guinea pigs. One of them, Popcorn, gave little kisses to the hands of Sam Payne-Elliott, who sat at a table outside Santa Barbara County Animal Services during a free adoption day.
“He’s really a good boy,” Mrs. Payne-Elliott said, looking down at him as pet lovers walked up.
Animal Services’ Overpass Road facility is home to a dog shelter, BUNS’ rabbit shelter and Animal Shelter Assistance Program, the cat shelter. It was a busy day for all three.
In the day’s first two hours, two pit bulls, a shepherd and a Lab mix were adopted at the Goleta campus, Animal Services outreach coordinator Michelle Maltun told the News-Press.
And a cat was getting adopted every 15 minutes Saturday morning, Becky Morrill, ASAP’s shelter operations supervisor, said. “We’ve had five cats adopted so far, and we’ve only been open 75 minutes.”
Animal Services also operates a shelter in Santa Maria, which was busy as well with its free adoptions.
“We had a line going down the parking lot in Santa Maria of people wanting to meet our dogs, cats and rabbits there,” Ms. Maltun said.
The free adoption day was part of the Clear the Shelters campaign, organized nationally by NBC/Universal-owned television stations. Besides Animal Services, neighboring Santa Barbara Humane on Overpass Road and Santa Barbara Humane’s Santa Maria campus participated in waiving all fees for a day for adoptions.
In Buellton, Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society/DAWG also participated in the promotion but with regular fees.
The need to find homes has grown more critical with a recent increase in animals coming to the shelters, Ms. Maltun explained.
“Our shelters have been filling up during the last six months,” she said.
Last year, it was a different story. With people stuck at home during the pandemic, they were eager to foster or adopt pets, and Ms. Maltun said during that time, animals were getting adopted as soon as they became available.
But this year, people are going back to work and are traveling again, and Ms. Maltun said that has made finding homes more difficult.
She found it encouraging that people were coming to the Goleta facility Saturday and providing homes for the animals. The dogs, cats and guinea pigs could go with their new families immediately.
People could reserve the bunnies of their choice and be guaranteed a free adoption, but Ms. Crestfield said they don’t take them home immediately. People need time to get the supplies they need to care for rabbits.
One Santa Barbara resident walked to her car from the ASAP shelter with her new domestic shorthair cats, sisters Bella and Mittens, and she was thrilled.
“I’ve always had cats,” Diane Hemmer told the News-Press. “I love cats. I always feel cats need a home. Every shelter is full of these poor animals who need a home. And they’re easy to take care of.”
She said she would have adopted Bella and Mittens even if she had to pay fees for them. “I do contribute every year to ASAP because I’m so glad they exist.”
Nearby was a cat with a special need.
He’s a diabetic cat.
But two people who fostered him, Suzanne and David Martin-Reay of Santa Barbara, said caring for a diabetic cat isn’t difficult.
For one thing, you can buy diabetic cat food. “It just means less carbohydrates,” Mr. Martin-Reay, an ASAP volunteer, said.
And the insulin shots? “It’s quite easy,” he explained. “He just loves food. I just feed him in the morning, and he puts his head down, chomping. I just give him the insulin injections (in the scruff of his neck). He doesn’t notice it.
“Suzanne and I have found a generic insulin that’s pretty reasonably priced. He takes three units, and 300 units is less than $50,” Mr. Martin-Reay said. “It’s only 50 cents a day to take care of his diabetes. We get syringes from Amazon.”
Mrs. Martin-Reay, by the way, is on the ASAP animal behavior team. And while the couple has two foster cats, they also have four of their own.
For the last word on adoptions, let’s turn to Malcolm. He’s a friendly malamute with one blue eye and one brown eye.
“He was found as a stray. He just became available this week,” Ms. Maltun said as Malcolm walked up to the visitor from the News-Press to get petted.
“We have not seen anyone fluffier.”
For more about shelters and the latest animals available for adoptions, see the Life section every Wednesday in the News-Press.