Pet adoption is a huge need in the county with the overflow of animals that come into shelters each year.
In the city of Chula Vista at its animal care facility, staff strives to increase adoptions, reunite lost pets with their families and encourage responsible pet ownership through education and outreach.
Each year, more than 8,000 animals arrive at the shelter which serves the cities of Chula Vista, National City, Imperial Beach and Lemon Grove.
Currently the facility holds 130 cats and 165 dogs.
“Due to our warm weather our kitten season tends to last longer,” Chula Vista Animal Shelter adoption counselor rescue coordinator Linda Septon said. “This is also the same time of the year when were seeing puppies come in. Dogs come into season every six months.”
Septon contracts with rescue groups for special needs animals, coordinates off-site adoption events and troubleshoots adoption counseling.
“We’re first and foremost a law enforcement agency — a shelter for stray animals that have been abused or neglected — and the goal is to find these animals homes if their owners do not come in and claim them,” she said.
Septon said that adopting a pet at an animal shelter is more cost effective than going to a local pet store.
“The first choice is to come to the local animal shelter to adopt a homeless pet,” she said. “You get a lot for what you pay for. When you’re adopting an animal form your local animal shelter you’re giving that pet an actual home. We also do some behavior assessments so you get a good idea of what type of pets are good for your lifestyle.”
The facility also offers a foster program, which is a short-term adoption alternative.
“It concentrates on what we call neonates, animals under two weeks of age or under two pounds,” Septon said. “In our foster program we give people all the supplies they need, the liter food, bedding … and the foster home is caring for the animals and raising them not just medically but also behaviorally, helping them be social animals.”
Septon said the foster homes are typically kept full, especially this time of year.
Septon added that while pets make great companions, they are a big commitment and require time and training.
“We tell people, ‘This is how much time you need to dedicate,’” she said. “With a dog this is like adding a baby into your household. Do your homework. Nowadays animals live a long time … we need to be able to make sure that they can be with you for a long time. We’re looking for forever homes.”
As far as how long an animal stays at the shelter, Septon said it varies.
“There’s no set time period,” she said. “Each animal is an individual. We look at temperament and behavioral styles.”
The Chula Vista Animal Care Facility is located at 130 Beyer Way. It’s open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.