Fur festival helps shelter pets find forever homes

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EL PASO – “Fur Babies” was the phrase of the day at the second annual Fur Festival in early November, an adoption extravaganza encouraging pet adoption from both the El Paso Animal Services and the Humane Society of El Paso.

“It was a great experience. Everyone was really friendly and it’s a home-like environment for the dogs,” said a visitor named Mark who adopted a black labrador retriever mix named Daisy at the festival.

At the 2014 festival, 125 pets were adopted in one day from the Humane Society of El Paso and the city shelter combined. This year 98 pets found new homes during the festival, but organizers said adoptions during the week were at a higher rate than usual due to promotion of the event.

Lovingly referred to as “fur babies” by employees at the shelter, pets of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds are taken in and prepared for adoption. When the city has pets that go unclaimed by owners and there is space in the Humane Society shelter, those animals are transferred over to Humane Society workers who try to connect them with their “Forever families”.

“You never know when you might find that one pet that is going to be with you for the rest of their life,” Mark said while petting Daisy.

Besides promoting pet adoption, the festival welcomed pet owners to bring their own pets and meet local pet friendly vendors and businesses. Vendors at the event ranged from businesses involved with pet sitting, organic pet treats, pet grooming, pet outfits and obedience training.

Both cats and dogs of all ages and sizes were available for adoption at a special discounted fee of $40 per adoption. Usually pet adoptions run from $60-$120 depending on age and type of animal. The adoption process and fee range in prices. People seeking to adopt a pet need a state I.D. or driver’s license, must be at least 18 years of age and a have completed and application and adoption contract. Every adoption includes spay/neuter surgery, microchip, vaccinations, and cats receive testing for feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus.

Kandolight Flores, associate director at the Humane Society of El Paso said the decision to host the event at the Humane Society shelter this year was to invite the community to see firsthand what the shelter is like.

“If people have the stereotype that our shelter is sad and ugly, they can come and see what a great environment it is and the work that we are doing to help the city to find homes for these unwanted animals.”

The no-kill shelter is the oldest of its kind in the county and city of El Paso, accepting found, lost or unwanted pets. If some animals have a difficult time at the shelter there is a foster program to help them by temporarily placing them with a caretaker. There is a always a need for foster homes and the public is invited to sign up to help.

“We are also here to advocate and educate on responsible pet ownership” Flores said.

Areas of the shelter are set aside for potential pet owners to play and interact with the animals. There are also spaces available for pet owners to bring the pets they already own to meet their potentially new pet and see how the animals interact. The money the shelter receives from adoptions helps maintain the vaccinations, food, water, treat, toys and litter supply for the animals.

The shelter has adoption promotions year round. More information on pet adoption is available on their website, which includes pictures of adoptable animals.

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