By SARA ARTHURS
Looking for a puppy or a kitten? Or would an adult pet be a better fit for your family?
Paula Krugh, director of operations at the Humane Society & SPCA of Hancock County, said many people do come in seeking puppies or kittens. But puppies, in particular, require a lot of training, and if they don’t get it, they may later end up back at the humane society as “puppies in big dog bodies.”
Krugh’s own family includes Olivia, who she adopted two years ago when the blond Lab was about 8. The pup has some health issues, but “she is just beyond wonderful,” Krugh said.
She’d adopted puppies in the past, but is glad to have an older dog now. Olivia sleeps on the dog bed that Krugh’s previous dogs never used. She walks well on a leash. She has been generally “so easy to bring into our family,” Krugh said.
The dog was “very fearful of other people” at first but, “she glued to us very quickly.” Krugh said it took Olivia about a month to realize, “Hey, this is my home and I get to stay here.”
Krugh said more people now look at taking in adult animals than once did. Sometimes people are looking for an older cat as a companion, rather than a kitten.
And sometimes they’re not sure what, specifically, they are looking for at all. Sometimes it’s a matter of coming into the shelter and falling in love.
If you’re adopting an older animal, you’ll probably only have them in your family a relatively short time — but, Krugh said, it’s rewarding to know you are giving that animal a comfortable life in that time.
One of the dogs Courier staff met on their visit to the humane society was Molly, a Lab mix who is about 3 years old. (Note: The Courier visited June 20. So Molly may have found a home by the time you are reading this.)
Molly doesn’t like other dogs but does like treats. She had been at the shelter for five weeks after having been found running stray.
Krugh said when people’s animals run away, they don’t always think to look at the humane society. They do keep lost and found reports, but often strays like Molly aren’t claimed and are eventually put up for adoption.
Krugh said Molly would be “great with a family” and someone to walk her and play with her. She has no real health issues and is young enough that she still wants to be active.
“She’s a sweetie,” said Jen Fox, a kennel aide who is studying to become a veterinary technician. “We hope she finds a home.”
Kennel aides advise pet seekers on what is best for the animals’ lifestyle, aiming to place each animal where it is best suited.
Fox said kittens tend to be somewhat hyperactive. An adult cat will be more mellow. Grownup dogs, too, may differ from puppies in temperament, although “Labs stay in that puppy stage for a while,” Fox said.
As for the adult dogs who weren’t trained well as puppies, they may just “need someone to work with them on their manners,” she said. Consistency and stability are key, and nothing’s really wrong with them, they just need some training. And, since dogs are eager to please their humans, it’s not too late: “You can teach an old dog new tricks,” Fox said.
Krugh said the humane society is seeing fewer puppies brought in than they once did, and she thinks dog owners are spaying and neutering more than they used to. But in addition to adult dogs and cats, there are “kittens galore,” she said, as many people may not spay or neuter their cats.
There are colonies of feral cats in Findlay, but Krugh noted that “You see all levels.” Some cats are truly feral, and would take a long time to tame. But others are living outside but aren’t really wild.
“Some cats want to be outside,” but many others are eager to be “couch potatoes,” she said.
And some want to be a kitty burrito.
One such cat that was up for adoption during The Courier’s visit was Missy.
“Missy’s my favorite,” Fox said.
The cat likes to make herself “into a little kitty burrito,” hiding in her fleece blanket. Missy is about 5 years old and very shy. She was brought to the shelter by a family she’d tried to move in with, after she started hanging around their house.
“She would like a quiet home,” Krugh said.
Fox said Missy is very cuddly and friendly, just “very shy.”
Sometimes when animals first come in, they are scared, Fox said. But “it’s really not their fault.” There are a lot of strange people in the new environment.
Fox herself adopted a dog named May, who was “extra fearful” at first, seeming to be walking on eggshells. Then the dog went through training.
“And now she’s home and she’s happy,” said Fox, who’s seen her go “from a terrified, cowering dog” to one who is eager to go on walks or to the park.
Kennel aides are at the humane society seven days a week to care for the animals, including cleaning and feeding. Krugh said the aides get to know the individual animals and how they might fit in with a family, which helps them with matchmaking.
If an older animal has medical issues, shelter staff will make the potential family aware of those concerns. She said some people do pass by these animals — but some don’t. If you’re an animal lover, “You do what’s needed for that animal,” she said.
Fox said it’s always rewarding when they see an animal find a good home. But sometimes it’s particularly special, when she and her colleagues know they have found a “perfect match.”
But Fox said when an animal is adopted, it’s “always very bittersweet” for those on staff. They’re happy the animal has found a home, but they had gotten attached during the animal’s stay at the shelter.
No animals are allowed to be adopted until they’ve been spayed or neutered, and until they’ve received their vaccinations.
And everyone in the family must come to meet the animal before the adoption is final, Krugh said. She said it’s difficult for the animal if they have to return to the humane society because they’re not a good fit with the family.
“You want that adoption to be a forever home,” she said.
Other things to consider when adopting: Are you home often enough to give the animal attention? Do you have other animals already, or small children? Is your yard fenced in? If you’re a renter, will your landlord allow you to adopt a pet?
Most importantly, are you prepared to make a long-term commitment?
“That pet is becoming part of your family,” Krugh said.
The humane society advertises adoptable pets on its website and in the newspaper, and Krugh said sometimes people come looking for that specific animal. Other times it’s more general: “We want a dog.”
One older dog recently got adopted, a deaf boxer.
“We just had a beagle adopted,” an older dog named Jake, who is fitting in perfectly to his new family, she said.
And there’s a cat at the shelter who is “a very independent girl” and best as an only child. She’ll find the right owner, Krugh said.