Prepare yourself to meet some cute and cuddly creatures at the Tucson Shelter United Adoption Weekend on Oct. 18-20.
The Humane Society of Southern Arizona, Pima Animal Care Center and Hermitage Cat Shelter, a no-kill shelter, are offering discounted adoption fees, raffles and other pet-related festivities at each of their facilities over the weekend. In celebration of National Foster Appreciation Day, Hermitage Cat Shelter is also offering an additional informational session on cat fostering on Oct. 18, plus the chance to meet former foster cats.
However, before you rush into picking up your furry pet, this upcoming adoption event sheds light on a problem that the University of Arizona has dealt with for many years: stray cats making the campus their home.
According to David Bishop, UA College of Pharmacy building manager and former board member at Hermitage, stray cats are on college campuses across the country.
Bishop reports that the best strategy to combat stray cat overpopulation is to trap, neuter and release.
“Volunteers will trap them and neuter them so that they can’t reproduce and then return them to their calling,” Bishop said.
Although he has helped stray cats on campus find homes through his connections at Hermitage, Bishop said that adoption or relocation is not always an option. In that scenario, Bishop claimed that having a controlled colony is the best thing.
Cat lovers at the UA also have ways to get involved.
According to their website, the CATS4Critters club is dedicated to “improving the lives of stray animals on the UA campus and in the Tucson community.”
Susan Miller, the deputy director for Cyber Infrastructure Research at the Data Science Institute and club coordinator for CATS4Critters, said that part of the CATS4Critters purpose is to also inform possible pet owners about the responsibility of owning an animal.
“We do try to educate students about the fact that if you get a pet, it’s a 20-25 year commitment,” Miller said.
Bishop partly attributes UA’s stray cat issue to the students who can’t take their pets with them when they graduate or return home for the holidays.
“Letting an animal go just because you’re tired of it or you can’t take it with you is not the best option,” Bishop said.
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Holly Simon, Hermitage’s Adoptions Coordinator, said that she tries her best to prevent that problem of irresponsible adoption.
“Whenever I get a college student who wants to adopt, I kind of grill them a little bit,” Simon said. “It’s not just a four-year commitment, it is going to be for the next 20 years of their life.”
For a college student considering adopting an animal, Simon recommends considering future plans beyond the four years at a university.
“Are they willing to relocate with the animal? Are they going to be moved overseas? Are they going to have a transient type of job where they could be traveling a lot?” Simon said. “That’s the kind of things that they need to consider, not just for the time that they’re here.”
According to the event’s Facebook page, the three shelters are looking to find a home for 600 pets. By offering half-price adoption fees on adult cats, Simon said she hopes Hermitage can go above and beyond.
“Those animals are so appreciative of a second chance and ... they really do make the best pets,” she said.
Shelter employees like Simon also recognize the big picture of no-kill animal shelters.
“Whether you’re going to Pima Animal Care Center, you go to Maricopa County or you go to the Humane Society, it doesn’t matter,” Simon said. “We’re all working for the same goal.”
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