EL CENTRO â€“ When you adopt a dog or cat, you save an animal, find a friend and open up shelter space for another animal that might need it. However, few locals are taking advantage of that benefit as the number of animals at the Humane Society of Imperial County have drastically increased during the last few months — and the resources are scarce.
â€œThis facility operates solely on donation,â€ saidÂ Devon Apodoca, executive director for the Humane Society of Imperial County. â€œWe have the most animals and the least support. This is the worst we have ever seen.Â A lot of people think everything here is free, and that is not the case. We are dealing with over 300 animals a month, so it does add up. Right now we owe a local veterinarian over $16,000 in medical bills.â€
The shelter has held several events throughout the year hoping the Imperial Valley community would step up and help, however, all efforts have been unsuccessful.
â€œWeâ€™ve held several events to get people to donate or volunteer and we have gotten nothing,â€ said Apodaca. â€œRight now, the majority of our donations and volunteers come from out of the county, mostly San Diego. We have several groups of people who come down from San Diego and help bathe and walk the dogs and clean kennels,â€ explained Apodaca.
Most of the dogs in the shelter are picked up by animal control and taken to the shelter after five days if not claimed by their owners. Once at the shelter, the dogs will receive food, water, baths and the necessary medical attention. Each dog will also be evaluated by a veterinarian and screened for any behavioral or medical issues.
â€œIt costs us about $150 per animal to service them, assuming the animal is healthy,â€ explained Apodaca
Adopting an animal entails a simple procedure. The interested party must have a current driverâ€™s license or identification card, and complete an application, then pay the adoption fee — ranging from $60 to $150 (spaying or neutering are included in the fee).
â€œPeople complain because our fee is high, but they donâ€™t realize the fee includes vaccinations, deworming, spay or neuter, and a health exam,â€ explained Apodaca. â€œCompared to other counties, we have the lowest adoption cost.â€
According to Apodaca, the number one competition in adoptions are back yard breeders.
â€œBack yard breeders are selling dogs on the internet for about $20,â€ said Apodaca. â€œWhat people donâ€™t understand is that they still have to pay for vaccinations, deworming, spay or neuter, health exams. If they would adopt one here, all of these services are included in the fee.â€
Apodaca said adoptions during the summer months are very slow.
â€œDuring this time of the year, our adoptions are dead, they are pretty much non-existent,â€ said Apodaca. â€œWe have animals that have been here for years. Usually adoptions pick up between September and December because people are a lot more giving.â€
But that isnâ€™t the only challenge the shelter is facing. The shelter has experienced numerous cases of people who drop off their animals, putting all responsibilities on the shelter.
â€œThe other day we had someone come in here with their dog who was very sick, left the dog here and drove off,â€ said Apodaca. â€œWe ended up taking him to the vet and he didnâ€™t make it through the night. People need to understand that they are responsible for their pets and the medical costs associated with it.â€
Apodaca is pleading for assistance, whether it be food, cleaning supplies, monetary donations or volunteers.
â€œIf we donâ€™t have to worry about buying cleaning supplies and food, we can better utilize that money, such as hospitalization and utility bills,â€ said Apodaca.
To volunteer or make donations, contact the Humane Society of Imperial County at (730) 352-1911 or visit their location at 1575 W Pico Ave., El Centro.