FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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There are several animal shelters in the Coachella Valley, all of whom fill a need. Animal Samaritans SPCA has the most comprehensive approach to the animal overpopulation problem, and as such, is recognized as the lead animal welfare organization. It is unique in its focus on eliminating the euthanasia of adoptable animals through prevention. Programs and services include humane education, low cost and no-cost spay/neuter services, low-cost vaccinations; microchipping, shelter and care, fostering, adoptions to lifelong homes and animal assisted therapy.
Q: How does Animal Samaritans SPCA differ from the public or county animal shelters in the area?
The primary difference between public services and Animal Samaritans SPCA is that public services are tax-funded. Public services are tax-funded enforcement agencies for the laws and ordinances of animal control. As a non-profit organization Animal Samaritans SPCA is focused on prevention and treating the causes of animal overpopulation, abuse and cruelty. There is a need for both organizations, both public and private, as they complement and augment each other's efforts.
Q: Why does Animal Samaritans charge so little for spay and neuter services?
The effect of not spaying and neutering the existing companion animal population is alarming, resulting in too many animals being euthanized or abandoned. In a caring and giving society, people sometimes need assistance. In a perfect world, all pet owners would be capable of paying for the spaying and neutering of their pets. However, this is simply not the case and many pet owners are incapable of affording the charges of private veterinary services for this essential procedure, sometimes double to triple the cost of what Animal Samaritans SPCA charges.
Q: There are proposed bills before the State legislature which (if passed) would mandate spaying and neutering of all companion cats and dogs. How would that affect Animal Samaritans and your program?
Should the California Health Pet Act AB 1634 pass when it is reintroduced in January 2008, the demand for services at Animal Samaritans SPCA would increase dramatically. All companion pet owners would be obliged to bring their pets in to some facility for the procedure. In a recent price survey, Animal Samaritans SPCA determined that they are half the cost of the next least expensive provider of spay and neuter procedures in the Coachella Valley.
Q: Why is Animal Samaritans SPCA's approach to animal care and services so effective?
Animal Samaritans SPCA's comprehensive approach targets the causes of animal overpopulation, disease, abuse and cruelty, not merely the symptoms. For well over a decade, humane professionals nationwide have been addressing the crisis of companion animal overpopulation by developing programs that focus on three fundamental objectives, on which Animal Samaritans SPCA's programs are based:
- Reduction of the number of unaltered domestic animals through comprehensive, affordable and accessible spay and neuter programs.
- Increased adoptions and claims of lost and unwanted animals after they have entered animal control facilities.
- Education in the community regarding responsible companion animal ownership.
Q: What do you mean by sheltering animals?
Homeless, abandoned and unwanted animals are a tragic societal problem in this nation. Many times all that is needed is a temporary extension home until the right human companion comes along. Animal Samaritans takes in animals from local animal control facilities and from pet owners who can no longer care for their pet. Essentially, we provide food, housing, medical care and enrichment for animals that live in our shelter until they are adopted into loving homes. On average, we are able to save 350 animals a year!
Q: What are the criteria for acceptance of an animal into the shelter program?
Criteria come from legal standards and board policies. Legally, we are only licensed for 40 cats and 4 dogs in our current facility, so our capacity to serve is limited. As we adopt out our animals, space becomes available to accept more animals. When we do have space, we take in only adoptable animals. Since our space is limited, we have chosen not to be a sanctuary and house unadoptable animals; instead, we maximize our service to the animals by offering highly desirable animals that "turn over" quickly, making room to continually save more lives.
Q: How do I know if my animal is unadoptable?
Feral cats, vicious dogs and some diseased animals are unadoptable. At the shelter, we have a team of experienced staff members, including a volunteer dog behaviorist, and a California state licensed veterinarian who can evaluate a cat's or a dog's likelihood for adoption.
Q: What is a feral cat?
A feral cat is a wild-born cat that has missed out on contact with humans during the critical socialization period as kittens. Instead of choosing domestication, as our house cats do, they are wary of humans and can even scratch or bite us as we try to help them. The most humane thing to do for the overpopulation of feral cats is to make sure that they are spayed and neutered and re-released to live out their natural lives; We have feral cat traps available upon request for temporary use.
Q: A feral sounds like a stray. What is the difference and why can't you take strays?
A stray is a homeless or abandoned animal (cat or dog) that may be socialized and looking for a home. A feral is not. The reason we cannot take in strays is that the law tells us that all strays must go to the animal control facility in the city where it was found so its owner has a chance to reclaim it. If the animal is unclaimed after the required holding period, we can (and we often do) go in and rescue it, taking it in at our adoption center.
Q: I cannot keep my pet any longer. What can I do with it?
Loving, lasting homes are in demand because of animal overpopulation. Consider the reason you are forced to give it up. If it is a behavioral problem, is it something that can be fixed with a training class or hiring a behavioralist? If the cat stops using the litter box, have you taken it to a vet to rule out a biological cause? If you are moving, have you visited websites such as petmotion.com, which references landlords that accept companion animals? If someone in your family has developed allergies, have you researched all options to reduce the effect of the animal on that person? We all know we will not live forever so have you made arrangements for your pets in case something happens to you? If you absolutely must part with your companion animal, always try to place the animal with a friend, family member or co-worker first. If you must surrender your animal, give us as much notice as possible so we can put you on our waiting list in time to help you if you have a deadline. We have an intake specialist who will schedule appointments for the relinquishing of animals. It is this person's job to juggle all of the variables that affect our ability to take in new animals.
Q: What is your screening method for prospective adoptors?
We have an application process. We collect information that will help us match animals with the right home and assess the commitment level of the adoptor. Much of it is an educational process designed to supply new adoptors with the information they need to make a lifelong commitment to a companion animal.
Q : How can I be sure I'm adopting a healthy cat or dog?
Prior to an animal's adoption we quarantine every animal to observe them for disease, test for Feline Aids and Feline Leukemia, spay or neuter, vaccinate and microchipped. We also deworm kittens and puppies. To the best of our knowledge, at the time of adoption, we are adopting out a healthy symptom-free animal.
Q : What if my adopted animal becomes sick?
We quarantine or hold and observe each shelter animal for two weeks before making him or her available for adoption. We do this as a best effort to ensure the animal is healthy prior to adoption. Please note that once you've adopted a pet, you have agreed to care for his or her medical needs. This policy is mentioned in the adoption contract each pet lover signs before adopting a new animal family member.