Aiding the animals: New programs, partnerships coming to animal shelter in 2022

Drew Butler
The Daily Ardmoreite

In 2021 the Ardmore Animal Shelter took in approximately 6,400 animals. While approximately 4,000 of them found new homes, the other 2,400 never left, placing the euthanasia rate at over 37%. 

In the effort to save more animals, the shelter will be making some changes in 2022.

"Those numbers are better than they've ever been, but they're still not good enough," Executive Director Kasey Renteria said. "So by the end of the first quarter we'll have some new programs and policies in place that will hopefully really help."

One of these changes will come in the form of a shelter collaborative program with the Utah-based nonprofit Best Friends Animal Society. 

The Ardmore Animal Shelter is currently seeking a foster home for this litter of five puppies. Beginning next year, the shelter will be expanding its foster program to also include adult animals.

"They're going to be helping us out and giving us some ideas of things that have worked at other shelters for us to implement here," Renteria said. "They would like to see us with a live release rate of over 90%, and if we can meet that we'll become eligible to receive more grants. It's really a great opportunity."

One of the biggest factors in meeting this goal will be the expansion of the transport program in which animals from Ardmore are taken to other shelters across the country that need dogs and cats. Currently these animals are going to Illinois, Iowa and New York, but some will soon be heading to North Dakota.

"We have 18 different rescues in North Dakota who are willing to take animals from us weekly, but they need us to meet them halfway," Renteria said. "We're going to be purchasing a transport vehicle to make that possible, and we're going to need a large cargo van that can transport at least 30 to 50 animals to make it worthwhile. Vehicles are already a bit hard to find right now — much less one that large — and haven't had any luck yet. But I'm hoping to get one or place an order for one within a few weeks."

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Going hand in hand with the expanded transport program will be an expanded foster program that includes adult animals. Renteria said many shelters either prefer or require animals to have been living in a home setting for at least two weeks before they are transported, and the new foster program will open the doors for many new partnerships.

Charming is available for adoption and has his eye on finding a forever home.

"Not only does it free up space here, it also allows for the opportunity for more facilities to pull those animals," Renteria said. "The two to four weeks the animal is in foster care are kind of an added assurance that they are healthy and have good temperaments."

Another change coming has to do with shelter volunteers. Renteria said the volunteer program was completely shut down when COVID hit, and has not really returned since. An unexpected side effect to come from this is that the animals are now healthier than before.

"We love our volunteers, and we love having them come out, but sometimes they aren't very diligent when it comes to sanitation," Renteria said. "We're going to be launching aa new volunteer program that's going to offer more training and be more specific in the duties they can do while they are here."

Another change Renteria is hoping to make will be the construction of two new isolation units, one for puppies with Parvo and another for kittens with ringworms. The isolation units will allow the animals to heal and prevent the general population from exposure.

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To help pay for the van, gasoline for transportation, and the new isolation units, the shelter will be raising its prices on January 3. This will take the adoption cost for dogs from $65 up to $70 and the cost for cats from $45 to $50. The shelter will also begin charging an owner relinquish fee of $35 for an individual animal and $50 for a litter. It will remain free for stray animals found in Carter County to be dropped off.

"With us being the only shelter in the area, it's been difficult," Renteria said. "We want to help as many animals as possible, but to pay for all of the changes we need to make we're going to have to increase our prices just a little bit. I think the new prices are still quite reasonable for adoption considering everything that comes with it, and as far as I know, we were one of the only shelters that did not charge an owner relinquish fee."