OSWEGO — According to Lindsay Metott of the Oswego County Humane Society, pet adoptions are up.
“We’ve seen quite an influx in adoptions,” she said in a recent interview.
She believes the pandemic’s the cause. “With most people working from home, they feel they can give an animal more attention than what they normally would working a regular nine-to-five job. Plus, it’s the holiday season.” She said an increase is common this time of year.
So, who’s adopting? Cat lovers or dog lovers? At the Humane Society, the choice is simpler than you might guess.
“The vast majority of people, when they contact us, are looking for a cat,” Metott said.
And the reason is rather obvious once you understand how their system works.
“Because we are foster-based, we have to have a home to put the animals into. If you are shelter-based, you have kennels that you can put a dog that may not be good with other dogs or cats or other animals in general. You have a spot for them instead of trying to put them into a home that may possibly have a cat or a dog that it may not get along with. It makes it easier for them to be able to take in the more difficult cases. Whereas, when we take in a dog, it has to be good with other dogs or cats or kids, whoever the foster may be, we’re very limited as to what we can take in because of these stipulations.”
In other words, dogs are somewhat of a rarer find at the Humane Society, at least as far as walking in and finding one you’d like to take home.
“We might have a couple animals in our office, cats or a couple of kittens, but that’s it,” Metott said. “We’re here every day, seven days a week, at least once a day, usually twice a day, but we never, ever keep dogs in our office, because they have to go out every four or six or eight hours.”
And so, because they are not considered a shelter, and therefore cannot keep dogs at their office, they have the foster system. It’s sort of like foster parenting a child with a few different perks. The Humane Society relies on a local network of 10 to 15 foster homes who care for their animals until someone permanently adopts them.
“Before we take in an animal, we reach out to our foster homes,” Metott said. “We ask, ‘Is this something you feel comfortable taking?’ At that point, we also have a backup, because if that animal isn’t thriving in that foster home, we need to have a backup just in case, for a dog or a cat. Guinea pigs and rabbits are a little bit easier because those are caged animals. As soon as an animal comes in, we do intake on it. We make sure it looks good and healthy. If it does not, we call the local vet offices that we use in the area to try to get them seen as soon as possible, and at that point, we decide what needs to be done.
“Our fosters have no financial responsibility with the animal, Metott continued. “We pay for everything. We pay for their food. We pay for beds, or kitty litter, medications, literally everything. We pay for everything that they need. The only thing that they’re supplying is a home that they can stay nice and warm in, and as much love as they can possibly give.”
The Humane Society finds permanent owners for the animals they take in, and the owners find their animals, through the miracle of the internet.
“We have Petfinder.com. that we post all of our animals on,” Metott said. “We also have a website, www.oswegohumane.org, plus, word of mouth. We have people who submit an application just looking for a specific type of pet. We might have a family that comes in and says, ‘This is the kind of cat that I’m looking for. I want it to be super lovey, between these ages,’ or a certain color, or they might say it has to be a male or a female. Each person has their own preference. Each family has their own stipulations as to what they would like, along with what is the best fit into their home. If we get something in that fits all of their needs, or most of their needs, we’ll give them a call and say ‘We have a potential pet for you to come and look at. Would you like to set up a date to meet them?’ And then at that point, we set up a meet and greet.”
But the animals do have to be a minimum of three months old “because they have to have their rabies vaccine before they go into their home.”
The adoption fees range from $100 for a kitten to $75 for an adult cat. Dogs vary by age and size, and “if it’s a very high medical case, they do have an increased adoption fee because we’ve had to put so much money into them,” Metott said.
“That covers everything, their vaccinations, a vet visit, their spay or neuter. That $100 covers everything that they’ll need for the first year of their life.”
The Oswego County Humane Society has been here since 2000. It gets all its money from donations.
“We don’t get any grants from the government because we’re not a shelter,” Metott said, “so, we don’t qualify for the majority of grants.”
They hold fundraisers, as they did recently on Zoom, featuring their animals, “just to show what their personalities are like, and just a visual on them in general. A couple of our fosters joined the Zoom as well and showed the animals they have in their care.”
Pet adoptions may be up now, but what will happen once COVID subsides and people go back to work? Metott isn’t worried people will suddenly abandon the animals they’ve adopted while homebound.
“I don’t think there’s going to be an increase in surrendering or abandoning animals,” said Metott. “I think a lot of the reason for adoptions is mental well-being. A lot of people who have never suffered from depression are finally seeing what it’s like to have depression. And it’s always been said that if you love pets or love animals, they’re very therapeutic. And why not take the chance to help your mental well-being? And if you’re home all the time, then why not share your home? But I think that bond you build when you’re with anyone, whether it’s a human or an animal, anything in general, once you build that bond of spending so much time together, it really does help in the long run. You go to work all day, and you get home, and you see this pet, and this pet is so happy for you to be home, it just makes your day so much better.”
The Oswego County Humane Society is located at 29 W. Seneca St. In Oswego. They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Their Facebook page is at www.facebook.com/OswegoCountyHumaneSociety. Their phone number is 315-207-1070.