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North Texas Animal Shelter Celebrates Adoption Milestone

PARKER COUNTY (CBS 11 NEWS) - The Weatherford-Parker County Animal Shelter is celebrating a major milestone: passing the 90-percent mark in live releases for a calendar month.

"As of January we've been adopting 8 to 12 out a day so far," explained Dustin Deel, the assistant director of municipal community services in Weatherford and director of the animal shelter.

In a business where numbers and cage availability dictate life or death, more going out means more little lives saved.  "We've actually recently upped our live release rate up to 92-percent," Deel said clarifying the rate, "Your adoptions, your returns to owners, whether we work with rescues and we take and work them out that way.  Any way that doesn't leave in euthanasia."

dog - animal shelter

Two years ago the shelter was embroiled in a false rumor that it was putting down massive numbers of adoptable animals.  It wasn't true, but critics took aim at the shelter.  Today there are more supporters, like Kip Hodge who says her husband and daughter, Ava, are in love with their adopted dachshund, Stella.  "I wanted something for her to grow up with because I had a dog growing up and it just makes it more important," Hodge told CBS 11 News.

Another group of supporters is the Parker County Pets Alive. PCPA President Lee Ann Adams sent CBS 11 an e-mail that said, "YES YES YES!  We are flippin' thrilled!!!!"    Later Adams phoned us, explaining some of the programs that her group works cooperatively with the shelter, including one where feral cats get neutered, but given to farmers and ranchers with barns so they can live out their natural lives in some measure of freedom.

As we looked around the Weatherford shelter's adoptive animal barn, we noticed several people looking in cages and a few taking adoptable animals home.  "We waited for a birthday--this is my birthday gift!" one lady told us as she left with a pooch in one hand and her toddler in another.

cat - animal shelter

The shelter recently received a grant from the ASPCA to improve its system.   It used the money to purchase new stainless steel cat kennels.  They are not only easier to clean than standard kennels, they are also healthier, since they have sidewalls that assist in preventing the spread of many feline diseases.

The shelter is at about three-fourths capacity, thanks partly to the nearly 50 volunteers who do everything from showing up daily to exercise dogs, to photographing pets for online postings -- especially Facebook.  Volunteer Megan Parks says pictures put a face on the animals.  "You can talk about things a lot but to actually have a photograph of an animal in need -- it will get peoples' attention and make them come down here and look."   She adds, "The shelter has a lot of people they know that they can reach out to that will come into the shelter, take pictures, and pay it forward on their Facebook… or call their friends."

Parks has adopted four dogs and a horse from the Weatherford shelter.   As she spoke she held an aging longhaired Chihuahua named Nanny. The dog's teeth were so bad when she left the shelter that Parks' veterinarian said they were causing Nanny to have heart murmurs.  So all of the dog's teeth had to be pulled for her own good.  But according to Parks Nanny seems perfectly happy with soft food.  "She does really well and I get her real special small Kibbles and she mouths them and she has no problem eating."

Nanny was a special case.  She was sick and went into quarantine -- once there animals are usually not allowed to be adopted.  But Parks routinely stakes out the shelter's intake system and fell in love with the Chihuahua.  " I saw her when she was being brought in and I waited until she came out of quarantine and came in and picked her up."

Nanny was an unusual success story.   The shelter's reaching the 92-percent goal is admirable.  Keeping it there is their next challenge.

For information on the Weatherford Parker County Animal Shelter, you can go to their Facebook page.  Click here to find out more about Parker County Pets Alive program.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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