Pet adopters face a big responsibility

We wish that all adoptable pets at the York County Animal Shelter could find loving homes. But those thinking of adopting a pet also need to consider that doing so requires a significant commitment of time and money.

York County is planning to drop adoption costs at its shelter starting July 1 to entice more people to take home a dog or cat – or even more than one. The shelter typically charges $77 per adoption, which covers the cost of spaying or neutering the animals and ensuring that they have their necessary shots.

But during peak periods of the year, when the shelter is slammed with animals for one reason or another, shelter officials plan to lower costs to encourage more adoptions. Fees could be as low as $15 or $20, and two-for-one specials also will be offered.

The shelter can be faced with an abundance of animals for reasons we might not consider. For example, officials say that holidays with fireworks – such as the Fourth of July – cause many pets to flip out and become separated from their owners. Many kittens arrive during spring mating season.

County officials say dropping adoption costs can encourage more adoptions and help lessen the burden on rescue organizations that volunteer to take the overflow animals so they won’t be euthanized. The county euthanizes animals only for health reasons, not because of lack of space in the shelter.

But those thinking about taking home a new pet need to realize that it’s a big responsibility. The expense does not end with the adoption fee.

Pets need regular checkups by a veterinarian. They need medicine year ‘round to control fleas, ticks and heart worm. And there are likely to be injuries that require medical attention.

Pets need to be fed and sheltered – including when owners are not around to care for them. And they need to be properly controlled so they don’t run off, destroy other people’s property or, worse, hurt another animal or person.

Shelter officials never can ensure that everyone who adopts a pet will care for it properly. Even people with the best of intentions can fall short.

We think dropping prices during peak periods is one way to deal with the overpopulation of animals. It could be the incentive needed for people who have been thinking about adopting to finally take the big step.

Again, though, we hope that anyone who considers taking home a cute little puppy or kitten fully realizes that it will grow into an adult dog or cat. And we hope those adopting pets will approach this important decision with their eyes fully open regarding the amount of time, effort and money involved.

Adoption is just the beginning of what can be a relationship that lasts for years. But making sure it is a happy, fulfilling relationship for both pet and owner takes work.