A black lab with three legs happily hops across the parking lot to meet another dog that excitedly licks his face. A volunteer helps a guest find the fry bread stand while carrying her sleeping teacup chihuahua. Children play with hula hoops and paint mini pumpkins as parents decide whether they are ready to take a furry friend home.
Hundreds of cars flood the parking lot as the Humane Society of Yuma hosts its 5th annual adoption event to clear the shelter. The HSOY’s Fall Festival is their largest free event of the year, and many volunteers wait by the gates with excited smiles, ready to match guests with their perfect pet. The dogs and cats at the shelter wait patiently in their kennels for someone to give them a loving home.
“Adopting from a shelter is a little bittersweet because there are so many animals that need a home, and you really wish you could get more than just one,” says AWC Massage Therapy Instructor Irene Garcia. “I would definitely encourage others to adopt if they can.”
Last year, the shelter took in roughly 2,530 dogs, but only 2,101 where able to be rescued, and of those only 1,114 were adopted. Only 465 of the 2,626 cats taken in were adopted, and 613 had to be euthanized.
“We are only a no-kill shelter for dogs, and we’ve managed to be that way for two years now, but cats are still a huge problem for us,” says Executive Director of the shelter Annette Lagunas. “Our save rate for cats right now is 65 percent, but our goal is to be at 90 percent. The way we are helping is by sterilizing all the cats that come through here as well as sterilizing feral cats and releasing them right back where they came from.”
HSOY needs hundreds of volunteers to help take care of the thousands of animals within the shelter and to help maintain a “no-kill Yuma.”
“I used to volunteer at a shelter in East Bay, California,” says AWC Librarian, Sujata Halarnkar. “It was great but also sad because it was a kill shelter, so sometimes I would take a dog for a walk and then a couple weeks later I wouldn’t see that dog anymore because it had been euthanized. That was the hardest part, but I love the Humane Society because they save as many animals as they can.”
Euthanizing is still a big problem as shelters can only care for so many animals before they are at maximum capacity.
“Our point to do this event is to clear the shelters and get exposure so we can help more animals find loving homes,” says the head of the marketing department, Sahreena Mendoza. “We wanted to create a way for the community to get involved with the shelter.”
And there are many ways the community can get involved with the shelter. For example, the shelter is happy to take old blankets, pet food or toys for the animals.
“The way our college community can help is by advocating for adoption, proper licensing and microchipping as well as donating either time or money,” says Lagunas.
It’s all for a good cause – saving lives.