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Shelters waive adoption fees on older dogs

| Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, 11:38 p.m.

Mary Ryan knows from experience the joys of adopting an older dog.

She took in Scooter, an 8-year-old Shetland sheepdog, when her owners decided they could not pay for dental care. Though Scooter died last year, she gave her adoptive family many happy years, Ryan said.

Now Ryan wants to help other older dogs — and their new human owners — by agreeing to cover adoption fees on Monday for up to 30 older dogs at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society.

“Puppies are appealing to everyone, and sometimes older dogs are not,” said Ryan, 59, of Fox Chapel. “But dogs who are a little bit older are much easier to adapt into a home. And dogs make people happy. They make lives better.”

Adoption fees range from $50 to $175, depending on the dog's needs, staff said. Fees for dogs at least 2 years old will be waived during the one-day promotion.

The timing is ideal, officials with the North Side shelter said. During the holidays, the shelter, which took in 12,000 animals last year, experiences a spike in pet surrenders as some people who plan to travel opt to simply give up their animal rather than pay for boarding, they said.

Many of those pets are older.

“Age is not a disease,” said Humane Society Executive Director David Janusek. “These dogs make fine pets for many, many families.”

The Humane Society has more than 30 dogs older than 2 that are ready to adopt.

Among them are Lucy, a 9-year-old Shepherd mix that staff placed on a weight loss plan, and Molly, a 9-year-old mutt that endeared herself to Humane Society spokeswoman Gretchen Fieser.

“She's 9 going on 3,” Fieser said. “She's been there for months, and she's so sweet. She's been pet of the week on Facebook; we've taken her to all the (media) events. ... I can't figure out why nobody is paying attention to her.”

Animal Friends in Ohio Township also is pitching older pets. Through Dec. 31, it will waive the $75 adoption fee on all pets — including dogs, cats and rabbits — at least 2 years old.

In a different promotion, the Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania in Larimer will celebrate Black Friday by erasing adoption fees on all black or partially black animals at the shelter.

Ryan hopes her gift to the Humane Society will result in many new relationships.

“There are a lot of really wonderful dogs in that shelter,” she said. “But people sometimes have a problem coming up with that initial investment. I thought, if I can make that go away, maybe more people will come in.”

Chris Togneri is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5632 or ctogneri@tribweb.com.

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