Spokane shelters get $10,000 grant to find a few good owners

Michele Nelson of SCRAPS checks a stray for an identification chip. SCRAPS and other area animal welfare groups will hold a pet adoption event Friday and March 31. (Jesse Tinsley)
Michele Nelson of SCRAPS checks a stray for an identification chip. SCRAPS and other area animal welfare groups will hold a pet adoption event Friday and March 31. (Jesse Tinsley)

Four local animal groups are teaming up with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to host a mega-adoption event this week to give hundreds of animals a “new leash on life.”

ASPCA gave $500,000 in grants across the county for “Mega Match-a-thon” pet adoption events in March. A $10,000 slice of that was awarded to the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service, which is joining forces with SpokAnimal, the Spokane Humane Society and Pet Savers.

“It’s a collaborative effort,” said SCRAPS director Nancy Hill. “We applied for the grant on behalf of our community. We just took the lead.”

Hill has reached out to other area rescue groups to bring in pets for the event. The Kootenai Humane Society also has been invited to participate. Organizers hope to find new homes for 222 animals, a number picked by event sponsor KREM 2, Hill said.

The event will be at Subaru of Spokane, 423 W. Third Ave., from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon March 31. All animals are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and ready to go. Adoptive families will only have to pay for a Spokane or Spokane County pet license, which are $25 for dogs and $15 for cats. Residents who do not live in Spokane County will not have to pay the license fee, Hill said.

The animals will be in the car dealership’s second-floor showroom. Cats will be in cages, while each dog will have a volunteer handler since there aren’t enough kennels to go around. “I’m sure we’ll have cats at one end and dogs at the other,” she said. “We really hope it’s going to generate a lot of interest.”

Each dog will also undergo temperament testing before the event, including things like testing a dog’s reactions when someone grabs for its food dish or pulls on its fur. The dogs also are introduced to a cat to see if they would get along with a feline companion. “We test to make sure they’re safe with people and other animals,” Hill said.

This is the first large adoption event since a Super Pet Adoption Festival in 2010. More than 100 pets were adopted, although the normal adoption fee was charged during that event. “We almost ran out of dogs,” Hill said. “They flew off the shelves. Cats, not so much.”

Hill said she hopes to adopt out every animal she brings. “Emptying the shelter is a good thing,” she said. It has only happened once before, at the end of 2011, when an adoption sale managed to find a home for every one of the shelter’s cats. However, the cages only managed to stay empty for 10 minutes after the shelter opened the next day.

“Cats are our at-risk animals,” she said. “Cats are our main focus this year.”

Sometimes people who want to adopt a new pet like to bring along their current pet for an introduction. During the large adoption event, people are asked not to bring outside pets into the event, Hill said. Volunteers will be willing to bring a prospective pet outside for an introduction if people still want to do that.

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