Puppy love

Traditionally, Valentine’s Day is about showing that special someone how much you care, but it’s also a great time to show some love for our furry, four-legged friends.

Currently, the Chesterfield County Animal Shelter is home to 158 dogs and 32 cats, said Alice Berry, manager of the shelter. More animals are picked up off the streets than brought in through the front door, she said. Owners can turn pets in, but if the shelter can’t accommodate them, they are placed on a waiting list until space is available, she said.

January and February are slower months for adoption, she said, and the “simple reason is the nasty weather.” “We might be open, but people can’t get to us,” she said. But, every Saturday tends to be busy, said Berry, who also said she loves animals and has been around them all her life.

Though getting to the shelter might be challenging in the winter months, the adoption process is easy. Since April 2010, all animals adopted from the shelter are spayed or neutered, Berry said. To adopt, potential pet parents must be at least 18 years old and have a valid picture ID, she said.

There is a $60 adoption fee, she said, but the shelter has two programs offering lower-cost adoptions. Seniors age 62 and older can adopt a pet for $10, and animals that are not “highly adoptable” can be adopted for $10, she said.

Through owner reclaiming, transfers to animal rescue groups and adoptions, 70 percent of the animals that come to the shelter leave alive, she said.

Potential pet parents should use some common sense when considering what kind of animal to adopt.

For example, a medium-size or small dog might be best for someone who lives in an apartment, she said. High-energy dogs need a lot of exercise, she said. If someone is a “couch potato,” a low-energy dog would be a better choice.

Also, Berry said, potential pet parents should think about what their pet would need and whether they could afford it.   

“Look at your lifestyle before you come in, and think about what you do in life and what you want from that special companion,” Berry said. “Then we can steer you in the right direction.

“Or, you may walk the kennel and keep coming back to this one special one and you just know in your heart that is the one. But, common sense is important.”

The animal shelter is open from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

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