No one knows how many cats and dogs there are in Birmingham, but one thing is for sure - animal surrender is up. Scott Kirkland is the founder of Birmingham Animal Adoption and Rescue Center, a three year old non-profit and a no-kill shelter for cats and dogs. Kirkland has been saving animals since he was 14 and reports surrenders - running at about 600 per year - are at an all time high. The agency adopts out about 50 to 60 animals a month. He first noticed the rise in pet surrenders after 9/11. Then there was the housing collapse in 2008. “It’s the housing foreclosures” he says. It is hard to keep pets when people have to move. Birmingham was reporting a 1.5 per cent home foreclosure rate as late as August, 2012, against a national rate of 3.2 per cent but at one point foreclosure sale announcements were announcing home sales at 40 to 50 percent below market value.
At the Alabama Animal Society, P.J. and Charles, president and vice-president respectively, report a surge in surrenders since 2008 as well. The adoption rate is good but the agency also addresses the issue of homes for animals through reproduction control. No animal is adopted out without being neutered and spayed. The shelter is supported in this effort by veterinarians in the area who accept a certificate from adoptive pet parents entitling owners to neutering services for about $30 – about one third of the normal cost of neutering and spaying services. “But veterinarians are beginning to feel the pinch.” says Charles. “It usually costs about $100.” Fortunately, fundraising efforts at Alabama Animal Society have netted the agency a consistent donor base enabling the shelter to subsidize certificates for those would-be pet parents unable to afford the cost of the certificates.
Basset Hound Rescue, an agency over 13 years old and breed specific, has noticed a drop in adoption rates starting around 2008, but has not realized a returning upswing as yet. Trudy Phillips, treasurer and trustee for the agency, attributes the unemployment rate and an increased divorce rate in addition to the general economy problems to the situation. Basset Hound Rescue strategy for placing pets includes collaboration with another pet placement agency, McGregor Greyhound Rescue. When necessary, Basset Hound transports dogs out of state to foster homes. There are 3 bassets leaving for New York shortly.
All three agencies rely on volunteers to maintain services. All three agencies can be contacted through their respective websites. Donations can be made there as well.