Local pet lovers looking to adopt will find puppies and kittens a little bit less expensive this week.
Orange County Animal Services Center has temporarily cut fees to encourage adoptions, and more than 30 pets have found homes since the event started March 23.
Events like this one — which ends April 14 — offer about 50 percent discounts for those seeking new pets, with the cost totaling $50 for cats and $60 for dogs. The shelter holds several per year.
All adoptions include a health examination, initial vaccinations and spaying or neutering.
In the first two months of 2012, the center saw between 30 and 45 percent of its animals adopted — but it also euthanized about 30 percent. Shelter leaders say the reduced-fee event is one method the shelter is using to find pets homes and drive those euthanization rates down.
And Jessica Allison, animal shelter manager, said it’s working.
“The number of animals adopted during events has been very encouraging,” Allison said.
Blue, a six-month-old Siamese cat, is a success story of the program. He was one of 101 cats adopted during Cat Adoption Month in 2011, a fee-discount event that saw a 20 percent increase in cat adoptions compared to the year before.
“I wondered why such a beautiful cat was given up,” said Debbie Crane, Blue’s owner.
In addition to other lowered-fee specials, the center is using different platforms — from an active Facebook page to a strong on-campus presence and new online features — to encourage people to take home a new furry friend.
The center also holds regular fundraisers for animal welfare issues and participates in outreach-based events with an on-campus student group called Helping Paws to help increase adoption awareness.
Helping Paws officers are responsible for training and giving shelter tours to many new Orange County Animal Shelter volunteers on a weekly basis.
“We do all we could to be a reliable source of those volunteers,” said Allison Hargett, co-chairwoman of Helping Paws.
“The shelter staff is courteous and knowledgeable, and truly cares about the animals.”
Last month, the organization brought three dogs to UNC’s campus to show them off to students and promote animal adoption.
“The work with OCAS is extremely rewarding,” said Ginny Larkin-Thorsen, outreach coordinator of Helping Paws. “They are always flexible with us in order to bring dogs to Puppies in the Pit events and various other events we hold.”
In addition to outreach efforts, the animal shelter is posting pet photos and descriptions online in order to give each adoptable pet a better chance of finding a home.
Two years ago, the shelter became part of the Shelter Pet Project, a public service ad campaign and directory that includes more than 13,000 animal shelters and adoption organizations across North America.
The shelter recently launched an “animal cam,” meant to update regularly throughout the day on its website. The camera is supposed to offer residents a chance to view potential pets from home.
“The webcam is a great way to promote adoption of our featured pets,” Allison said. “It’s fun for website visitors to be able to peek in and see what animals at the shelter are doing.”
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