Bow Tie and Magnet were extremely unhappy when they were separated after arriving at the York County SPCA.
Brought in during a cruelty investigation, the two female cats were used to being together. But Magnet needed special medical attention, and that forced the separation.
“We put them back together as soon as possible because they were both miserable,” York County SPCA Communications Director Kaila Young said Wednesday. “They cuddled together, I called them our Yin and Yang.”
Staff arrived at the shelter one morning to find four kittens in the cage with Bow Tie and Magnet. Bow Tie was so small, she didn’t look like she was pregnant.
Now, the two adult females co-parent the kittens.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Young said. “Bow Tie will feed them, and as they finish eating, the kittens will go over to Magnet. She watches over them while Bow Tie gets a break. The kittens have two moms.”
Bow Tie, Magnet and the four kittens are among the 139 cats and kittens at the shelter. Forty more, mostly kittens, are in various foster homes.
Add 79 dogs and a dozen small animals, and you have a shelter that is near capacity.
SPCA officials hope that an adoption special will lead to “furever” homes for many of their guests. From June 25 to July 2 the SPCA is cutting their adoption fees in half.
The cost to adopt dogs will be cut to $87.50 for canines 7 and older, $117.50 for adults 1-7 years and $130 for puppies under a year. Check out available dogs here.
Fees for cats will be $32.50, $50 and $75 for the same age groups. Check out available cats here.
Prices for other animals varies by kind. The majority are rabbits, which will be $27.50 to adopt. Other available animals can be found here.
Young didn’t expect the reaction the shelter’s Facebook post received Tuesday to announce the half-off adoption fees.
There was a lot of speculation about why the shelter is so full. Many blamed owners returning pets they adopted during the pandemic, thinking they have no time for dogs or cats now that things are reopening.
Young said that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“This happens every year at this time,” she said. “We call it kitten season. People see them out walking around, so they pick them up and bring them to us.”
She hasn’t heard anyone say they are surrendering a pet because the pandemic is ending and they don’t have time for it. The majority of time pets are surrendered because the humans move and can’t take them with them, or because their financial situation changes and they can no longer afford the animal.
Young said she doesn’t know if it’s an increase in activity, or because people go away for vacations, but adoptions always go down in the summer and the number of animals being brought to the shelter rises.
“Normally it happens over a longer period of time,” she said. “This year it was like someone flipped a light switch. We went from hardly having any animals to getting 251 in the last month.”
Most of the 291 animals in the shelter’s care (including fosters) were dropped off as strays, not surrenders, she said.
In fact, one man walked around his mobile home park and picked up every kitten he saw. Young said he brought in a dog crate holding 22 kittens.
That haul is among the 80 cats and kittens that have been dropped at the shelter in the last two weeks. Many of the kittens are underweight or suffering from some other health issue.
They can’t be put up for adoption until they weigh at least 2 pounds, and their other issues are under control.
That treatment isn’t cheap. The regular adoption fees don’t come close to covering the costs of spay/neuter surgery and other medical treatment, food and staff time, Young said.
Those fees were another sticky point among the Facebook post’s commenters. One person asked why York charges an adoption fee for cats when another area shelter doesn’t. Others said the SPCA is more expensive than other shelters.
“I think we are always going to get complaints about fees,” Young said. “But if they aren’t willing to pay an adoption fee, what is the chance they are going to pay for medical treatment or other expenses down the road?”
She believes the SPCA’s fees are comparable to other area shelters.
This program has worked for the shelter in the past, and Young hopes the animals are as lucky this year.
People interested in adopting a pet during the half-off period are asked to check out available animals on the SPCA’s website and fill out an application when they find a pet they like. If the application is approved, staff will make an appointment with the prospective pet owner to visit the shelter.
This is how the York County SPCA has operated since the pandemic began, and it will continue that way until the end of summer. Young said they realize people prefer to walk through the facility and get to know the animals before making a selection.
But she said, they don’t have the staff in place for that to happen right now. Like many other businesses, the shelter is having trouble filling vacancies for animal care technicians, vet techs and customer service representatives.
“We have been working on our reopening plan for the last several months, but we are in a bit of a hiring struggle,” Young said. “We’ve been trying to hire for months. We want to get everything in place because we know we are going to be very busy when we reopen.”
Shelly Stallsmith is a trends reporter for the York Daily Record. She can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter at @ShelStallsmith.