County holds free adoption drive in response to impacted shelters

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The lobby of the Contra Costa County Animal Services Department (ASD) in Martinez thronged with people and animals last Thursday, the second day of a five-day free adoption drive held to address overcrowding in the Martinez and Pinole shelters.

Steve Burdo, the Community and Media Relations Coordinator at ASD, said the rising numbers of animals—some 527 between the two facilities—is due to the start of the winter months, a time when pets run off and more strays approach people for increasingly scarce food.

Burdo also attributed the growing animal intake to a shifting cultural awareness about animal welfare, largely thanks to social media.

Roughly seventy percent of the animals at the two county shelters are dogs, and the other thirty percent are mostly cats. But the facilities also take in many other animals, such as rabbits, chickens and the occasional cow or horse.

Burdo explained that the Martinez shelter is a “low kill” facility, in which only terminally sick, injured or dangerous animals are put down.

“There is a trend in the shelter movement that if there is a way to save life, we save life,” he said.

“The easy solution [to overcrowding] used to be that they would euthanize a bunch of animals,” said Burdo. Now, extensive data on animals, and improved systems for sharing information, help shelters more efficiently use their limited space and make more informed decisions about each animal based on health and behavior.

The ASD has a roughly $11 million budget and also receives individual donations and grants from animal welfare groups. The shelters are largely volunteer run, and ASD works closely with other animal welfare groups to transport animals to locations around the county and bring animals into the community to promote adoption.

The five-day drive ended Sunday, but there are still many animals in need of a home. To adopt an animal or to volunteer, please visit here.

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