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Friends of the Shelter, a humane organization in Los Alamos, New Mexico, is trying to improve the quality of life for unwanted pets and find homes for homeless animals. Our goal is to have no more homeless pets in the county by 2010. In order to reach this goal, we are working closely with the county-run animal shelter, with local veterinarians, and with other humane societies. Our program has four major components: 1) a shelter program where volunteers visit the shelter three days a week to exercise, groom, and socialize the animals to make them more adoptable; 2) an active adoption program where we place animals in good homes; 3) a program where we pay for medical expenses or spay/neuter operations for homeless animals; and 4) an education program to promote responsible pet ownership, including the benefits and importance of spaying/neutering pets.
Since our program began, we have assisted hundreds of animals, and the euthanasia rate for animals without severe behavioral or medical problems has dropped to near zero. We have paid for an increasing number of spay/neuter operations, and have followed up with adopters to make sure that they have spayed or neutered their adopted animals. We have also paid for medical treatments for animals that would otherwise have been euthanized. All of these animals are now happy and healthy in their new homes. We work closely with the Los Alamos County Animal Shelter to help lost and abandoned pets. Our assistance ranges from medical care and spay/neutering to mobile adoptions, classified ads, fostering, and transportation of pets to their new homes. Our spay/neuter program has been extended to aninals in needy communities as far away as Gallup and Artesia. Last year, we spent over $37,000 assisting pets throughout north central New Mexico, paying for medical care, finding new homes, and spay/neutering to reduce the population of homeless pets in the future. Our efforts have been so successful that the shelter population in Los Alamos has been greatly reduced and we are currently exploring ways to partner with surrounding communities, including Santa Fe, Espanola, and Taos, to help homeless animals in other areas.