Linus is one of the many cats available at the Van Wert County Humane Society shelter. He is neutered, FELV/FIV negative, and vaccinated. (Photo via Jess Ritchey)
Linus is one of the many cats available at the Van Wert County Humane Society shelter. He is neutered, FELV/FIV negative, and vaccinated. (Photo via Jess Ritchey)

VAN WERT – The Van Wert County Humane Society saw an increase in adoptions in 2019, specifically in December when 21 cats found homes – the most ever in one month. Nine dogs also found homes in December.

“We ended 2019 on a strong note,” said Humane Society volunteer Jess Ritchey who noted that the 21 cat adoptions were the most she’s ever seen. “Most of those adoptions happened before Christmas even. Just to see that many cats get homes for Christmas was wonderful.”

An increase in adoptions is a good thing, said Jess Ritchey, who also explained the adoption process. When a person is interested in adopting a dog or cat, they first need to fill out an application, which they can do in person or online.

“When we get an application in, we review it,” said Ritchey. “Things we typically look into include their living situation and we will check into their vet records. We are basically looking to make sure they take care of their pets – when they are sick they take them to the vet and that they give them basic treatment. We are really just looking for responsible people.”

If a person rents, a volunteer or shelter employee will call the landlord to make sure pets are allowed at the rental property.

“We want to make sure where these animals are going to go is going to be a good place for them,” said Ritchey.

If the adopter has pets already, a meet and greet is required before taking a dog home. Adopters will bring their dog to the shelter to meet the adoptable dog in the outside play area to see how they get along. There is no meet and greet process for cats, but potential adopters are able to do home trials where they can take an adoptable dog or cat home for up to a week to see how they will fit in.

“Typically this gives a good feel at the start of the adoption,” said Ritchey. “It’s going to take a little bit longer for your pet to settle in. You don’t know everything about them in the first week, but the home trial gives you a good feel for if you’re going to be able to work with the pet.”

“Meet and greets are requirements for dogs because it helps everyone understand the personality dynamics as to whether the two dogs are going to get along,” added Ritchey. “We don’t want people to take dogs home on a whim and it not work out.”

The goal is to make the adoption process as smooth as possible for the adopter and the pet. Ritchey noted, however, that just because a person applies for a dog or cat does not necessarily mean they are guaranteed to get the animal. She noted that there are several reasons an application might be denied.

“Sometimes people think that where they live will except animals no matter what, and sometimes that’s just not the case,” said Ritchey.

Some dogs aren’t right for certain people. The Humane Society is a no-kill/low-kill shelter which means they do not euthanize a dog for space or because they have been at the shelter for a long time. Some of the dogs there require just the right person for them. Ritchey said that they are more particular about the homes "special needs" dogs go to in order to decrease the chance of them coming back.

“We do a little bit more policing on dogs that have special needs or dogs that are certain breeds of dogs,” said Ritchey. “For instance, a Border Collie will need somebody who has had Border Collies in the past and knows how to work with them and their hyperactivity.”

“We always explain to people why a dog might not be a good fit,” she added.

Every cat and dog that goes home is altered (spayed/neutered), up-to-date on vaccinations, and is heartworm (dogs)/ FELV/FIV (cats) tested. One of the goals of the Humane Society is to reduce the population of unwanted pets. Making sure they are altered before they leave the shelter helps to put this goal into action.

Ritchey explained that the adoption process is important and rigorous because the shelter wants to make sure that they are the last stop before a forever home.

“It’s important for us to follow the adoption process because we want to make sure our animals are going to good, permanent homes,” said Ritchey. “We don’t want animals to just leave here; we want them to go to good loving families that will keep them and work with them.”

Typically, once an application is placed, it will take one to three business days before a potential adopter is called.

The Van Wert County Humane Society shelter is located at 309 Bonnewitz Ave.