By STEVEN NALLEY
Puppies are arriving at the Oktibbeha County Humane Societyâs Starkville Animal Shelter by the litter. On Friday, shelter manager Anita Howard said she had just received a litter of eight the previous day.
âWe got a litter of seven, we got a litter of 10 and we got two litters of five over the past week,â Howard said. âWe are getting more puppies than we know what to do with, which would make great pets for Christmas.â
To help several of these puppies and other animals find homes for the holidays, OCHS is halving its adoption fees to $20 through Dec. 31 for animals which have already been spayed or neutered.
Howard said not all the puppies have been neutered, and there are also several kittens available which have yet to be neutered. Several neutered cats are available, she said, and they have not entered the shelter in the same volume as the puppies.
âOur cats, weâre doing a little bit better on,â Howard said. âTheyâre coming in just a few at a time. Right now, I would say maybe weâve got 40 cats, which, believe it or not, is good. We normally have about 50 or 60 cats at the shelter.â
Normally, Howard said, Mississippi State Universityâs mobile veterinary unit handles neutering for OCHS. It benefits both parties, she said, because MSU students get to watch and learn from professional veterinarians and OCHS gets free spaying and neutering.
âBecause theyâre closed during the holidays,â Howard said, âwe donât have spay-neuters during that month.â
Animal adoptions do normally increase during the holiday season, Howard said, but the OCHS board approved the price reduction Friday to further accelerate adoptions. The half-price special has become a holiday tradition, she said, and several prospective adopters have called asking when the special starts.
âWe do have adoption specials throughout the year,â Howard said. âIt just depends on how far we get. If we get too full, we try to offer an incentive to get them adopted.â
Howard said itâs hard to compare the volume of animals coming through the shelter in December with the volume of other months.
âThereâs no such thing as a normal around the animal shelter,â Howard said. âUsually, the only slow times we have are January and February.â
The MSU fraternities and sororities and Starkville Academy have helped OCHS this season by gathering baskets of supplies for the shelter at grocery stores and other venues, Howard said.
âItâs gone really well,â Howard said. âWeâve got a ton of treats, collars, leashes, paper towels, dog food and all kinds of things for the animals.â
Howard said OCHS is also looking for volunteers for MSUâs Homeward Bound program, which transports animals from overpopulated shelters in the South to adopters in the Northeast, where fewer pets are up for adoption in shelters.
âWe basically want a person who is willing to keep an animal for two weeks and then let them go after theyâve fallen in love with them,â Howard said. âOur next transport for Homeward Bound would be in January.â
Finally, Howard said, OCHS is always looking for volunteers. Only a small orientation session is needed, she said, and OCHS is willing to accommodate restrictions on what volunteers can do.
âWe never turn down a volunteer,â Howard said.