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Tue, Oct. 22

Adopt-a-thon aims to get pets home for the holidays

Dawn Gonzales/Courtesy photo<br>
When Hiccup, a 2-year-old Aussie, was rescued by the Yavapai Humane Society, he was seriously emaciated. YHS employee Jed Garasha hand-fed Hiccup back to health, and today he is ready for adoption.

Dawn Gonzales/Courtesy photo<br> When Hiccup, a 2-year-old Aussie, was rescued by the Yavapai Humane Society, he was seriously emaciated. YHS employee Jed Garasha hand-fed Hiccup back to health, and today he is ready for adoption.

Imagine waking up every morning thinking about 6,000 homeless animals. That is approximately the number of animals the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) rescues each year. Thankfully, there are many of us who wake up wondering how many pets can we save today.

The Yavapai Humane Society is the largest animal rescue agency in the quad-city area, rescuing and caring for significantly more animals than all the other local animal welfare organizations combined. We are not a "no-kill" shelter, but we aspire to be, and in 2010, we made significant progress in that direction.

YHS defines "no-kill" as applying the same criteria for deciding a shelter animal's fate that a loving pet guardian or conscientious veterinarian would apply to a family pet. That is, healthy and treatable animals would not be killed simply because we lack the room or resources to care for them. While adhering to the "no-kill" ethic, YHS achieved a 56 percent reduction in euthanasia since July 1. This is striking, but what is truly remarkable is that this reduction was achieved while caring for as many as 78 percent more animals at any one time - and without overcrowding our shelters.

This is a tribute to YHS employees and volunteers, who wake up every day to work with, train and socialize these animals in preparation for adoption. Although YHS is legally required to hold homeless animals for only three days, we often care for them for two to three months or longer.

But there is only so much room at the inn. For the first time since embracing the "no-kill" ethic, we are in danger of having to kill animals because we lack space to hold them any longer.

To avert this tragedy, YHS has launched the Home for the Holidays Adopt-a-thon. There is no better time of year to teach children and grandchildren about compassion. And there are few acts more compassionate than adopting a pet and saving a life.

To help encourage you to give the gift of life to a deserving pet, YHS is reducing dog and cat adoption fees in December to $45 and $25, respectively. Adoption fees for animals over five years of age or in the shelter over 30 days will be completely waived. (Adoption screening is required.) Adoptions include spay/neuter surgery, microchip and vaccinations - over a $350 value.

In response to the Home for the Holidays Adopt-a-thon, Prescott's Pet Depot Barkery announced a one-time 15 percent discount for YHS adopters, along with a free bag of pet food; and world-class dog trainer, Jennifer McCarthy, is offering free obedience classes to anyone adopting a dog from YHS. In fact, YHS has 15 dogs now who are halfway through McCarthy's basic obedience class. Anyone adopting one of these dogs can complete this class and graduate with their new pet at no cost.

There are many ways you can help end killing as a way to control the pet population. If you are a business owner, please think of a way to add value to a YHS adoption like the Pet Depot Barkery and Jennifer McCarthy did. If you have time to spare, YHS has many volunteer opportunities from dog-walking to helping with special events. YHS has a dog handling program that will teach you how to train shelter dogs, making them more adoptable. We also need foster caregivers for neonates and animals recuperating from an illness or injury.

If adopting or volunteering is problematic, there is still time to make a life-saving, tax-deductible donation this year. Also, consider talking with your financial planner about the many ways you can establish a compassionate legacy by including YHS in your will.

Together, we can make Yavapai County the first "no-kill" community in Arizona. It is a noble and achievable goal. Let us know how you can help.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at ed@edboks.com or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

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