The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

May 13, 2012

Animal Control, SPCA seeking foster owners for pets in need of adoption

ENID — For years, Enid Animal Control officials have been looking for a way to adopt dogs left in their custody. Now, they may have found a solution.

The department is working with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to form a foster pet program that allows residents to keep a dog in their home until it is adopted.

Nicole Winfield, a shelter volunteer, said applicants fill out a form asking the name of the individual’s current veterinarian and  references, along with some other questions.

With the assistance of Animal Control and the SPCA, applicants select a dog they believe would fit well in their home. Then, Winfield does a home inspection, determining whether the home is safe for the dog.

“It’s up to them whether they allow people in their home to see the dog, or if they meet people at the SPCA,” Winfield said. “We had one foster parent who adopted the dog.”

Applicants are slow in coming, and Winfield said she thinks many people do not like the idea of the home inspection, even though SPCA will spay and neuter the dogs and provide any needed medical care.

The organization advertises the dog on its website, and Animal Control displays its photos on the Adopt A Pet Facebook page.

SPCA and Animal Control determine which animals are the most adoptable. Puppies usually are not placed in the system because of the danger of parvo, a contagious canine disease; Winfield said the dogs usually are about a year old, and are approved by both Animal Control and SPCA. The foster dogs belong to Animal Control, but are adopted through SPCA.

“Animal Control was looking for a way to reduce the number of dogs being put down,” she said.

The program started with Winfield talking with former SPCA veterinarian technician Katie Harris about starting some type of adoption program.

“They once had a foster program, but it didn’t work out, and we tried to work out a better one,” Winfield said.

The two work with Rachel Hancock, an intern with Animal Control who operates the Adopt A Pet Facebook page. Hancock, a photographer, takes pictures of the dogs as soon as they come into the facility and posts them to the social networking site.

For the dogs to be adopted, they must be in the facility five days so the owner has the opportunity to reclaim them. Often, owners cannot afford to pay the fine and other costs to get the dog, or they simply do not respond when notified.

Winfield said Animal Control and SPCA are looking for those who want to become a foster owner. Winfield, who has volunteered, said she has never kept a dog more than three weeks, and some for less than a week.

Hancock discovered the Animal Control shelter while looking for a lost cat. She did not find her cat, but did see several animals in need of adoption. She started volunteering at the city shelter and taking photos of dogs, and began the Adopt A Pet page about six months ago.

“Most of the animals that come in are abandoned, and some get claimed,” Hancock said.

There are 44 pens at the shelter, and most of the time there are two dogs to a pen. Hancock said the change in animals after they are adopted is dramatic.

“You can tell the change in a dog after it is adopted,” she said. “They have a light in their eyes they didn’t have before. I fell in love with a dog, and when my husband came to meet her, you could tell she needed someone.

“We took her home, and her personality just came alive ... she was so happy to have someone to show her attention.”

Hancock said there is a risk in adopting a dog from the animal shelter, because their background is unknown. Even though there is a risk, she said, the available dogs are outstanding.

Hancock said bigger dogs have a more difficult time than small ones: The pens are barely large enough to lie down in, and the dogs have no room to run around and must remain in the cramped cages. However, she said almost all the dogs are housebroken.

“There was a boxer in there a could of weeks ago and he was so sad, he just laid there,” Hancock said. “Someone came to adopt him, and the dog ran in circles, he was so excited. He kissed everyone who came in the door. You know they are going to be such good pets.”

Anyone interested in the foster pet program may contact Enid SPCA and fill out an application. Following approval, applicants can go to the shelter and see what type of dog is available for adoption.

For foster parents, there is no charge — they need only provide food and shelter for the dog. When the dog is adopted, the new owner pays SPCA’s usual costs.

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