Finding a ‘Forever home’

The holiday season is often a time many children receive a pet for a gift. Unfortunately, many of those “gifts” become unwanted and end up in local shelters, where they await a good home.

The El Dorado Animal Shelter is no exception and animal shelter attendant Donna Sharp said they usually get several dogs in mid-January, although they have cats and dogs throughout the year available for adoption.

Shelter or rescue animals can make a great addition to any family and offer an animal a second chance at a happy life.

They also can bring the adopting family a lot of happiness.

“I’ve had people tell me they seem more appreciative of having a home, especially an older dog,” Sharp said of shelter animals.

“I’ve had older dogs who were just on the verge of shutting down and if they get to go to a family or even a foster home, they are a whole new dog.”

Puppies also can be extra energetic when they are first adopted for a while, with the new freedom and space they have.

To help with adoption costs in El Dorado, a Shirley Hogoboom grant was set up for in-city residents to cover the cost to spay or neuter, for rabies vaccination and tags, then the shelter waives the adoption fee to help stretch the grant as far as they can.

In December 2015, a little over $6,000 was provided through this grant. Sharp said they still have about $2,600 left.

“It has worked out,” she said.

But that doesn’t mean just anyone can adopt a pet.

Sharp said she is picky about who gets to take an animal home. She will ask a number of questions because she wants the animal to stay with that person and not be returned to the shelter.

There are several things people should consider before adopting, including the costs associated with an animal.

Up front there are other vaccination costs and exams. Then long-term there is veterinary care to be provided as well as feeding the animal.

“Especially a lot of young people don’t think about that,” Sharp said of the expenses.

“My first interest is the animal’s welfare.”

People also need to make sure they are allowed to have pets and if there are size restrictions if they rent a house or live in an apartment.

“Most apartment complexes at least charge a pet deposit,” she said.

“If you rent a house or live with your parents, you need to make sure it is a fit for the whole family.”

She also said people need to know the type of dog they are adopting and suggested people research that breed online.

“People just need to stop and think of everything it entails to take care of an animal,” she said.

Another important thing is for the person to own the dog to be the one to pick it out.

“Even kids don’t necessarily want the one you would think they would,” Sharp said. “I try to impress on people if they are looking for someone else, that person is the one they need to bring down here.”

Over the past year, Sharp said adoption numbers stayed pretty even, but the rescue numbers were up. Unfortunately, Sharp said there are not as many rescues for cats as their are dogs.

If you are looking for a new pet, the El Dorado Animal Shelter is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday (closed noon to 1 p.m.) and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday. They are closed Sunday and Monday. The shelter is located at 222 E. Locust St., and they can be reached at 316-322-8844.

Julie Clements can be reached at Twitter: @BCtimesgazette