An hour before the Front Street Animal Shelter opened at noon Friday, a half-dozen people already were lined up outside waiting to take advantage of a first-time deal: adopt a pet and get the animal, its shots, license and neutering for free.
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Inside the city-run shelter Friday morning were 157 cats and 170 dogs waiting for adoption. Friday’s promotion, which continues Sunday from noon to 4:30 p.m. after closing for the July Fourth holiday, is the latest effort to get the animals out of the facility and into residents’ homes. (Sacramento County is offering a similar free adoption effort at its Bradshaw Road shelter through Wednesday.)
One hundred animals were adopted out of the Front Street shelter for free on Wednesday and Thursday, and shelter director Gina Knepp is hoping the effort will draw attention to the city’s efforts to get pet owners to license their animals, something only a small percentage of Sacramento pet owners currently bother to do.
“Our compliance rate is about 17 percent in Sacramento,” Knepp said. “I know that based on households in Sacramento, there are about 250,000 animals living in the city alone. Imagine if even half of them complied. It would be an enormous assistance to our budget.”
It would also help many animals get returned to their owners rather than ending up in the shelter. The city is now offering to give a lost pet a free ride back to its owner’s home if it is found and wearing a license tag.
“A lot of people don’t think their pets will ever get out, and they’re probably right,” Knepp said. “But if they love animals in general and care about stray animals, it’s for the greater good. If your dog gets out and gets hit by a car, we’re going to rush it to get vet care, and licensing helps pay for that.”
Other cities such as Orange and Riverside have had so much success getting pet owners to purchase licenses that “it completely funds their operations.”
In Sacramento, where the shelter operates on a $4 million annual budget, licensing all pets could more than double that funding. Pet owners in the city can obtain the licenses online at www.licenseforlove.com.
An annual license for a neutered dog is $20, and $10 for a cat. Some pet owners mistakenly believe the rabies tag they get when their pets are vaccinated is a license, but that is not the case, and a stroll through the shelter Friday showed many dogs with no collar or collars and no license or ID tags that could have made their way home if they had been licensed.
“If we find your animal wandering the streets and it’s wearing an ID tag or a license, we’ll call your home,” Knepp said. “We’re going to give you your dog back, we’re going to drive it home. It’s cheaper to drive a dog home or a cat than it is to bring it here, and it’s much better good will.”