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Spring Brings An Increase In Pet Adoption

Sam Renaud, a volunteer at Dakin Humane Society in Springfield, MA, cares for an orphaned kitten
Sam Renaud, a volunteer at Dakin Humane Society in Springfield, MA, cares for an orphaned kitten

Spring in the Northeast brings a host of changes in the weather, outdoor events and for many of us - the end of the winter blues. One unfortunate occurrence that comes with spring is an increase in unwanted pets at the shelters.

It's finally starting to feel like spring and with the warmer temperature comes an increase in activity at area humane societies and animal shelters.

“Sheltering in New England is very seasonal, and spring and summer are our busiest times,” said Carmine DiCenso, executive director of Dakin Humane Society in Springfield, Massachusetts. 

"The major contributing factor is cats are seasonal breeders,” he said. “That’s when cats are going to have their litters. A side effect of that as well is during the winter months when there aren’t as many kittens, it is easier for people to place a 2-year-old, 3-year-old, 4-year-old, 5-year old cat on their own, but when those cats are now competing with many kittens out there, people aren’t able to find homes for those cats so again that adds to our intake numbers.”

Dakin has offices in Springfield and Leverett, Massachusetts. It provides services such as low-cost vaccine clinics, a pet food pantry, and a spay and neuter clinic, in addition to surrender and adoption services.

During 2017, Dakin took in an average of 336 animals a month from January to March. Compare that to the summer months of June through September, when their average intake was just over 600 animals a month.

DiCenso has been helping people adopt animals for nearly twenty years and says the business has changed quite a bit.

“So when I first started in this field, we really were overwhelmed and just had too many animals,” DiCenso said. “Now we’re at a point where we’re not overwhelmed, but we’ve noticed our population of animals need more from us. So we get a higher instance of animals that do need some type of medical support. We also see animals that might have some behavioral challenges. What we find is even though we’re seeing fewer animals in our shelter, we have to put more time, resources toward finding them homes.”

Although caring for the animals is a full-time job, when asked about the benefits of adopting, DiCenso had a simple answer.

“Adoption I think is a wonderful option for people because you are helping save a life,” he said. “They don’t want to be in a shelter, they want to be in a home with people. It’s also a chance to hopefully find an animal that’s a good match for your home. So we do have as good as possible backgrounds on the animals—have they lived with kids before? Other animals? Dogs? Cats? And whatever the case may be, and you might be able to find a really good match for your home that way.”

Experts say owning a pet can make people happier. Studies from Miami University and St. Louis University have linked pet ownership to less feelings of loneliness and higher self-esteem. The same studies find the psychological benefits of owning a pet can equal those of having human friendships.

Alex Escribano, a schoolteacher from Westfield, Massachusetts, adopted her cat, Bucky, from the Dakin Shelter last spring.

“He’s very lovable,” she said. “He loves to curl up with you. If you’re sick he knows and he will not leave your side. I’ve been a cat mom for a little bit over a year now, and it has been lovely.”

Steven O’Brien is a senior communication major at Western New England University from Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

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