In a push to clear out shelters before the Fourth of July, one of the busiest intake days of the year, Contra Costa County Animal Services has waived all pet adoption fees through July 8.
The promotion, which started on June 21, has already seen impressive results. In its first four days, the Martinez shelter was able to reach the same number of adoptions that it usually sees in a month-long period — roughly 150 adoptions. The shelter has also been bustling with prospective pet owners; On Tuesday, a line formed outside the front doors before the shelter opened.
The free promotion has been titled the "Summer of Love" adoption drive, a nod to the 50th anniversary of the social phenomena that heralded peace, love and freedom.
"It's been very effective," explained Steve Burdo, the community and media relationships manager for Contra Costa County Animal Services. "We're finding a lot of great homes for animals, and, consistent with the Summer of Love, we're allowing people to go home with love."
Despite those gains, however, hundreds of animals across the county are still in need of a forever home; The shelter is teeming with pets behind bars, especially bully breeds.
"There's something about when the weather changes," Burdo said on the timing of the adoption drive. "We always see an increase, so our population was getting pretty high at this point. We needed to open the valves to clear up some space."
Outside of the promotion, adoption fees typically range from $60 to $200 depending on the type of animal and weather it has been spayed or neutered.
A combination of factors contributes to severe overcrowding of animal shelters during the summer months. It is peak moving time for families, which means that some pet owners may find themselves in a new home that isn't pet-friendly. Additionally, stray animals are more likely to frolic around town in nicer weather, so more dogs and cats are picked up by Animal Control. Finally, loud noises associated with Fourth of July parties and fireworks can drive animals out of their homes, causing them to get lost and wind up in a shelter.
"Cats and dogs have very, very sensitive hearing, so when they hear the loud noises — the booms, the bangs — it spooks them," Burdo said. "For a lot of animals, it's fight or flight, and there's nothing to fight there. So they're going to fly."
Burdo continued: "In some situations, they may even harm themselves trying to get out."
To prevent permanent runaways, Burdo recommends keeping a close eye on pets during firework shows and micro-chipping them.
To see adoptable pets, watch the video above or head over the county website.