Animal shelter is full

The dog kennels at the Lassen County Animal Shelter on Johnstonville Road are officially full. There are no more spaces to surrender your dog within the county.

The animal shelter staff and Lassen Humane Society are deeply troubled by the development and would like to relay the message. “Unfortunately,” said LHS board director Peggy Speers, “the animal shelter has no more space for the county’s dogs.”

Speers wanted to encourage those who may not usually seek a shelter animal, to know of the incentives when you receive a shelter animal.

The incentives to getting your family a shelter animal include spay or neuter subsidies for your feline and canine friends. The subsidies are available to assist pet owners who cannot otherwise afford to pay the full cost of spay or neuter surgeries for their pets. LHS will pay for the veterinary directly in the amount of $40 for a cat and $70 for a dog.

LHS will mail the individual a voucher, which must be taken with them to the surgery appointment. The vouchers are non-transferable and may only be used by the pet owner named on the application. The vouchers will also not be replaced if lost, expire on Dec. 31 of the year and have a household limit for five animals per year for the assistance.

LHS also offers financial assistance for animal emergencies. For any animal emergency where the owner needs financial assistance, the owner must call any area veterinarian to discuss the issue. If the veterinarian determines there is a significant emergency, and there is financial need, they will contact the Lassen Humane Society for authorization to bill them for up to $50 for a visit and treatment at their office.

LHS also offers pet food assistance, which may be requested from the Lassen County Animal Shelter and Lassen Senior Services.

The feline containments are almost as full as the canine kennels as is expected during this time of the year, so the shelter would like to relay the benefits also extend toward them.

Why though, do so many of our furry friends end up in shelters?

A 1996 study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association looked at which risk factors made a dog more likely to be relinquished to an animal shelter.

The study found, of the estimated two million dogs euthanized annually in animal shelters, those dog owners who had the highest proportion of relinquishment were owners not participating in dog obedience classes after acquisition, lack of veterinary care, owning a sexually intact dog (not spayed or neutered), inappropriate care expectations and dogs having a daily or weekly inappropriate elimination (they went potty where they weren’t supposed to).

In a 1998 study in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, researchers discussed the reasoning behind the mass owner relinquishment of dogs and cats. The study found most dogs relinquished to shelters initially were obtained from family of friends at no charge and had most likely been relinquished either because of lifestyle changes, such as moving or because of behavior problems. In fact, behavior problems were reported in 26 percent of the dogs being surrendered.

A more recent study of a single shelter in Ohio also found most dogs (54 percent) and cats (47 percent) being relinquished had been obtained from a private owner, with more than two thirds of these animals under 2 years of age.

Factors that seemed to reduce relinquishment were regular veterinary care and participation in an obedience class.

Risk factors for cats were being sexually intact, allowed outdoors, never receiving veterinary care, frequent house soiling, being more work than expected and when the owner(s) had specific expectations about the cat’s role in the family.

Protective factors were if the owner had read a book or other educational material about feline behavior, obtained veterinary care and the cat had been obtained as a stray.

Throughout the city, county and country a rise in “no pet” policies can be seen steadily growing. With the rise of this policy, those who cannot find adequate housing for their entire families (pets included) find themselves at a difficult crossroads, sometimes with no other choice: Do they abandon the pets they’ve known and loved for years or risk having their family evicted due to damages?