Bandit is a peanut butter lover, active player and, occasionally, a fan of being a couch dog.
“He is a very good boy,” said Theresa Cassidy, Bandit’s foster mother. “He would make an awesome friend for another active pup.”
But even with his glowing endorsements, the 2-year-old American bulldog mix has been struggling to find a permanent family. Like several dogs at Joint Animal Services, he’s been waiting in the shelter for months.
On Friday and Saturday, the Olympia shelter is partnering with Best Friends Animal Society to reduce cat and dog adoption fees to $25 as part of the society’s fifth National Adoption Weekend. Andrew Toledo, the shelter’s operations manager, said the event will be run on a first-come, first-served basis.
Interested adopters will be able to view three animals, and take home up to one dog or two cats. The shelter hopes most animals will be able to leave with their new owners the same day, though this remains dependent on surgery status and other factors.
“It’s been pretty successful in the past,” Toledo said. “We can do anywhere from 20 adoptions to almost 100 adoptions each weekend.”
The shelter is well over its capacity, said Sarah Hock, its executive director. More than 200 animals, at the shelter or in foster care, are in need of homes. Without getting the shelter down closer to capacity, staff is strained to provide the same level of care for animals, and diseases can spread more easily.
These patterns are repeating across the state, Hock said, as shelters in Seattle and Tacoma have also been over capacity for months. Nationwide, recent data from Best Friends found more than 375,000 dogs and cats were killed in 2022, largely because of a continuing drop in dog adoptions after the pandemic.
Even though the shelter has received an influx of cats in recent months, Hock said they have been more popular with people than the dogs they shelter. Maybelline, one of the shelter’s longest residents, is a 2½-year-old terrier mix who has been with them since March. Animals like her face additional stress and anxiety from being in the shelter for too long, Hock said.
“These are temporary conditions designed for them to be here for a very short amount of time,” Hock said. “This isn’t a home. We get these dogs out to go potty, to go on walks, but it’s not the same as coming in and out of the yard and playing all day, or going on hikes with your owner.”
Hock is sympathetic to people’s concerns about owning a pet in a post-pandemic world. An animal can sometimes create additional economic burden, or housing restrictions might bar them from having a pet. But she said that pet ownership has not decreased, and she is hopeful that the shelter’s looser adoption standards will make the process more approachable for interested adopters.
“A lot of shelters and rescues do have a lot of steps and barriers for you to take a pet home, all in the name of trying to keep these animals safe. But what it does is create these barriers of frustration,” she said. “We try to be very open and inclusive in our adoption process.”
If the animal is not a good fit, Hock said the shelter is happy to work with owners to find a better match. The shelter also assists with medical procedures, including spay or neuter surgeries.
Hock said she’s looking forward to the adoption event this weekend, and is excited to see new owners with their pets. She loves watching the new families pose for happy photos when the process is completed. But for her, the true joy comes when the doors close.
“What’s really rewarding for me is at the end of the day, when we can walk through this room and everything’s empty, because that means we have more space and the ability to save more animals and more lives,” she said.
Interested adopters can view the shelter’s available pets at Joint Animal Services’ website. The shelter is located at 3120 Martin Way E, Olympia, WA 98506.
This story was originally published June 29, 2023, 12:04 PM.