Lake Martin Animal Shelter director Mia Chandler has some good news, as local pet adoptions are up and the euthanasia rate is down because of pet sterilization. 

The shelter ended 2019 on a high note with 37 adoptions and 13 pets claimed in December. The total adoption rate last year was more than 20% — 10% above the national average — according to Chandler. Shelter euthanasia was also 25% last year, which was half the national average of 50%.

Community education on spaying and neutering are possible reasons for the shelter’s numbers, according to Chandler. The shelter’s euthanasia and intake numbers drop every year. 

“People were more proactive,” Chandler said. “I think people are more aware and I think the community is generally doing its part.”

Chandler said most of the sterilization effort has been with cat colonies to stop spreading feral cats.

The shelter also received a Petsmart Big Fix 2020 grant which funds 20 spay or neuter surgeries per month at a cost of $20, according to Chandler.

The grant helps the shelter, which already has a spay and neuter fund with a voucher program. The shelter also has programs with Alabama Spay-Neuter to sterilize pets.   

With this grant, the shelter can take 20 animals a month to be spayed or neutered and it also includes a rabies shot for $20. 

“There’s really no reason not to take advantage of it when all you have to do is come up here, pay me a visit for five minutes and you can have your pet (housed) and not deal with any unwanted litters,” Chandler said.

Chandler said with the continued assistance of spay-neuter programs, the shelter will continue to see good numbers.

“We’ll continue to have lower intake, we’ll continue to have lower euthanasia and obviously if we are able to the board the ones here in house longer, then we’ll have higher adoptions as well as claims,” Chandler said. “It’s all this one huge cycle but all the parts have to be set.”

Chandler said the euthanasia rate is something she’s happy to see.

“The fact that we had 25% euthanasia is awesome considering the area,” Chandler said. “Now granted a large portion of the area intakes usually are brought to us and there’s absolutely nothing that we can do because of a major medical issue or if they’re considered vicious. We have to celebrate the euthanasia numbers.”

According to the ASPCA, 6.5 million animals are placed in shelters; 1.5 million animals are euthanized; and 3.2 million are adopted every year.

The shelter has 40 dog kennels and 33 cat cages and there were a lot of cat adoptions recently.

The December adoption rates were up because people who lost pets during the year usually wait until the end to see if they’re ready for another one, according to Chandler.

“I think more people are trying to do the right thing and adopt rather than purchase or find to a free good home,” Chandler said.

Another effort includes Chandler being brutally honest with pet owners looking to surrender. She said that helps owners either put a greater effort into re-homing their animals or decide to keep them. 

Chandler said it’s important to know being a pet owner can be hard; a relationship with a pet has ups and downs just like human relationships.

“Like any other being with a pulse, you’re going to have some really good days (with your pets as a pet owner),” Chandler said. “You’re going to have some really tough times but it’s just a matter of just making it.”

One area owners need to improve is reclaiming their pets after losing them, according to Chandler. An easy way to find a lost pet is posting about it on social media right when the pet are missing instead of waiting.

“That’s what’s heartbreaking is when you know a pet has a home because they are socialized; they’re a healthy weight; they’re clean and nobody’s looking for them,” Chandler said. “I don’t understand. I can’t comprehend why they wouldn’t come looking for their pet immediately.”

Pet owners need to take necessary steps such as vaccinating, sterilizing, training and socializing animals so if they are surrendered it will be easy to find them a new home.

“I wish everybody would look at pet ownership as a lifetime commitment,” Chandler said. “If something was to go wrong and you did all of the above, it would be much easier to re-home them.”