Peninsula Humane Society found homes for all adoptable animals in 2010 despite 7 percent increase

BYLINE: By Tenzin Shakya San Mateo County Times

Despite a 7 percent increase in animals surrendered to the Peninsula Humane Society in 2010, officials said the shelter was able to place 100 percent of adoptable animals into new homes for the eighth consecutive year.

In 2009, an estimated 2,955 pets were surrendered by owners who were no longer willing or able to care for their animals. In 2010, that number grew to 3,162.

There were 3,749 animals adopted from the center in 2010, of which 3,077 were dogs and cats. The others were small domestic animals.

“The numbers really don’t tell the story. The story is in the relationships we form with them” said shelter president Ken White. “They are living, sentient beings who add so much to a family and really ask for very little back.”

Rachel Evans, 40, of Burlingame adopted her current hound-mix dog from the shelter in 2007.
“It’s been a great and wonderful experience,” she said. “I named him Lucky, but really I’m the lucky one.”

Evans said she was not surprised by the increase of homeless animals arriving at the shelter.
“We hear a lot of sad stories about people having to move to a new place where they couldn’t have a pet,” she said. “The upkeep can get challenging sometimes, especially in this economy.”

Stephanie Halliday, 30, of Foster City started volunteering at the shelter when she was a teenager.
“Every animal deserves to have a loving home, and since I can’t take them all home with me, I want to help them find their forever home,” she said.

The shelter has an open-door policy that allows animals with medical conditions to be placed in care. Currently, it has five veterinarians, 14 veterinary technicians and more than 1,400 volunteers who dedicated more than 135,000 hours in 2010.

Mark Borson, 52, of San Mateo adopted two dogs from the shelter while volunteering there.
Though Borson’s 8-year-old dog has medical insurance, his 15-year-old dog was declined. “It’s a good idea to plan ahead with health insurance for your pets before they become seniors,” said Borson.

Pet care costs for dogs range from $1,314-$1,843 annually for the first year, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Medical bills could go even higher depending on the dog’s breed, heredity, pre-existing conditions and age.

“It’s best to prepare for things that are unplanned for,” said Borson. “A $300 bill could be astronomical for some, but for others it’s just another expense for the family.”

In addition to achieving the 100 percent adoption rate last year, the shelter investigated nearly 600 animal cruelty calls. “No dog is ever ignored,” White said. Society’s 2010 highlights
Getting fixed: 6,583 spay/neuter surgeries performed at the shelter’s low-cost clinic plus an additional 1,091 in the shelter’s mobile clinic, which provides free “fixes” in targeted communities.

Total number of spay/neuter surgeries was 7,674. Back to nature: 1,290 wild animals rehabilitated, then returned to their natural habitats. Training: Three classes of dogs graduated from the TAILS program, a partnership with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office which pairs shelter dogs with inmates in a minimum security facility for eight weeks.

Saving animals: Rescued more than 1,000 animals from harm’s way, including dogs stuck in traffic, down horses, ducks trapped in storm drains, and deer snared in fencing.

Total number of animals adopted during 2010
Total number of cats placed in new homes during 2010
Number of dogs adopted, a 7 percent increase
Number of rabbits, birds and other animals adopted