A new home, a new life: Adoption day provides second chance for pets

Published 12:10 am Sunday, January 22, 2023

Few memories will last with people more than when they get a new pet. For animal lovers, it represents the completion of their family.

Rowan County Animal Services held an adoption day event on Saturday and created numerous new pet moments. Those moments stand out to the department director, Maria Pannell.

“The families with the little kids come in, and they are all excited and bright-eyed,” Pannell said. “When they get to pick something out and take it home, they are so excited. It’s just the best feeling in the world.”

Pannell indicated that it is satisfying to know that the animals are also having a potentially life-changing day.

“We don’t know where animals come from,” Pannell said. “They could have been roaming the streets, or in a bad situation, so the hope is they go home with a family and enjoy the rest of their life. That’s our hope for all of our animals.”

A big draw for adoption day is the reduced fees, typically $80, to only $16.

The fees cover microchips, vaccinations, a veterinarian exam, and spaying and neutering.

On adoption day events like the one Saturday, that price drops 80% down to $16.

Rowan County Animal Services Director Maria Pannell indicated that adoption drives are crucial to offsetting the steady stream of animals her department routinely takes in.

“We bring in thousands of animals a year,” Pannell said. “Last year, we were close to hitting 5,000. We have had upwards of 6,000 before. It just kind of fluctuates.”

With so many incoming animals in need of a new home, the regular practice of walk-in adoptions sometimes doesn’t cut it.

“We have to spread the word because, during a normal day, we don’t always have enough adopters,” Pannell said.

Pannell explained that the Rowan County commissioners approved the adoption days to try and encourage more adopt more animals to help offset the burden of the cost on the animal services department.

“We didn’t have these events a couple of years ago,” Pannell said. “The commissioners gave us 12 adoption events a year to offset costs. They upped it last year to 20 because they saw that need.”

Animals wind up at Rowan County Animal Services for many reasons. Sometimes, they are strays or someone’s dog who may have gotten loose. Other times, they may have been surrendered by the owner.

Although the center came close to 5,000 animals last year, Pannell indicated that through adoption and loose pets being returned to their owners, they were able to send approximately 4,000 dogs back out the door.

According to Pannell, seasons can have a heavy impact on adoption rates.

“In the summertime, we might do 300-500 adoptions in a month,” Pannell said. “In the wintertime, it probably slows to around 200.”

Pannell explained that some adoption trends could seem counterintuitive and difficult to explain.

“You might think a lot of people would be adopting around Christmas, but surprisingly they are surrendering animals around Christmas,” Pannell said.

The one thing Pannell can bank on is that the animals will keep coming.

“It never ends,” Pannell said. “Even though it picks up in the spring and summer, it is an ongoing process.”

Rowan County couple Heather and Chris Clark have become regulars at the animal services department.

“Every time I come here, I leave with a cat or multiple cats,” Chris Clark said. “This is my first time on the dog side.”

The Clarks took Oakley home after meeting and falling in love with the dog.

“She listens well,” Chris Clark said. “She is so sweet.”

The Clarks live on Old Concord Road, where he has 22 cats and four dogs.

“I have over an acre and a half for them,” Chris Clark said.

Rehoming otherwise lost animals drives the Clarks to continue adopting.

“I am very passionate about it,” Clark said. “I think every animal deserves the right to have a good life. Every one of our animals, except for one, has been a rescue.”

The Rowan County Animal Services building is located at 160 Adoption Way. A February Adoption Day event is in the works, but complete details still need to be finalized.