Itís almost impossible to step into any room in the new St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter without either running into a small kitten or hearing the felines call out from behind their cages. Though the building is much bigger than the previous shelter, the 130 cats and kittens housed there are becoming a burden.
Attempting to find happy homes for as many felines as possible, the shelter is running a buy-one-get-one-free special until Sept. 1. The cost for adopting a cat at the shelter is normally $80, but now families can take one home for $40.
The St. Charles Humane Society, in cooperation with St. Charles Parish Animal Control, is sponsoring the half-price adoption fees.
Angie Robert, director of Animal Control for the parish, said that because the new shelter limits exposure to disease, many of the kittens that would have died at the old shelter are now surviving.
"With the new shelter, we are able to keep them healthy. They are so healthy and now we have so many," she said. "At the previous shelter, Mother Nature would make the difficult decision (to put a cat down) for us."
Several of the rooms at the shelter have cats or kittens in cages or playing on furniture designed for them, including the examination and grooming rooms. Staff members have also taken kittens home to care for them. Robert has nine at her home.
"We are doing our part by saving them from the street and giving them the care they need to be healthy," Robert said. "But we need people to come get them. We donít want to put down happy, healthy kittens."
Robert said that most cats and kittens tend to come into the shelter during the summer. In order to prevent overcrowding in the future, Robert said the $40 special will run from June 1 through Sept. 1.
"If we had actually had this idea and done this sooner this year, I donít think we would be in the situation we are in now," she said.
Though some might complain that the price to adopt dogs has remained the same at $80, Robert said the shelter canít afford to put all the animals up for adoption for the discounted rate. Plus, she said the shelter hasnít had any problem finding most dogs a home.
The new animal shelter is around 8,500 square feet versus 2,500 square feet at the old facility. Robert said in addition to the parishís pet population going up, the philosophy of public animal control has changed in the time since the building of the first shelter. Those changes in attitudes were taken into account in the planning of the new shelter.
Increased attention is now being paid to the overall well-being of the animals, including their health.
"If you can keep the disease under control at an animal shelter adoptions go up 85 percent," Robert said.
The veterinarianís quarters have been quadrupled and a new system has been put in place so disease will not move as freely about the facility.
The shelter features two wings – one devoted to cats and the other to dogs. In the back of each wing, isolation and quarantine rooms are designated where the animals receive treatment based on how ready they are to be adopted. The rooms are designed to limit contact between those being treated for diseases and others that need to be more slowly acclimated to the shelter.
|Kittens swarm a cage at the new St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter. There are currently 130 cats at the shelter and the animal shelter is trying to find them homes by putting them up for adoption for half off.|