Record broken for animal adoptions

Published 9:41 pm Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Suffolk Humane Society set a new record last year with 628 animals adopted.

That’s 488 cats, 124 dogs and 16 rabbits, gerbils and guinea pigs, according to Sara Johnston, chief executive officer and president of the board of directors.

It’s also a sharp increase compared to the 389 total animals that were adopted through the society in 2017, largely because there were simply more animals that needed homes last year.

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During “kitten season” last spring — when most unaltered cats go into heat — the society had between 40 and 50 kittens at one time, Johnston said. There were also more puppy litters that made their way through the society.

“We ended up with far more dogs than we would normally have because we would get litters instead of individuals,” she said.

The Suffolk Humane Society fosters positive relationships between people and pets. The BARKS reading program allows children to read to dogs in relaxed environments like the library, and these therapy dogs also put smiles on patients’ faces at local hospitals.

The society partners with PetSmart to help their kittens find forever homes. Volunteers bring and care for kittens at the PetSmart locations on College Drive and off Portsmouth Boulevard at Chesapeake Square. They also hold two monthly adopt-a-thons that rotate between the two locations.

There are approximately 50 active volunteers with the society, a number that’s constantly changing and doesn’t include volunteers looking for community service hours, Johnston said. People help at the Kings Fork Road office, at the society’s major fundraising events throughout the year and by fostering animals.

Unlike Suffolk Animal Control, the society isn’t financially supported by the city. These people rely on dedicated donors, grants and fundraisers like their annual Paws for the Arts gala in February and Mutt Strut in the spring to pay for the animals’ medical needs and other operational costs.

Johnston said the 600-plus animals that were at the society last year received nearly $70,000 in medical procedures, from spaying and neutering to eye surgeries and other, more advanced procedures.

“We rely on the companies and individuals of this city to provide that support in order to fulfill our mission,” she said.

There are several ways to support the Suffolk Humane Society. Those interested can sign up to foster dogs, as the society is in need of more dog volunteers to prepare for upcoming litters, Johnston said.

Tickets are also available for the sixth annual Paws for the Arts Gala that will be held on Feb. 2 at the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront hotel. The gala will be held from 6:30 to 10 p.m., and tickets are $50.

Lastly, dry cat food is still needed for the society’s pet pantry that will be held sometime this February at Mike Duman Auto Sales, 2300 Godwin Blvd. This pantry will support pet owners that have been furloughed due to the ongoing government shutdown.

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