On the city’s westside, the Hollister Animal Shelter is making miracles this summer by offering forever homes to its furry and feathered residents.
“We are so busy during the summer,” said shelter supervisor, Kara Newman. “With the 4th of July and fireworks we get an influx of animals, and we are at the tail end of cat season. We have lots of kittens.”
The kennels were certainly full of cute, fluffy kittens, but elsewhere at the shelter, there were more vacancies, due to a recent spate of adoptions.
“About two months ago we were almost completely full, but over the last couple weeks we had 17 animals adopted – four cats, 11 dogs and two birds,” she said. An adoption event in downtown Hollister earlier this month was a success.
“It reminded people we are here and gave them an opportunity to adopt, not just shop. We brought 11 animals and nine were adopted that day. We plan to have more outdoor adoption events in the future,” said Newman, as she explained the adoption process.
“First you fill out an adoption application to see if it will be a good fit. Then we do a meet and greet at the shelter. We ask people to bring any other animals they have at home to see if they get along.”
The adoption fee is $25, but the total amount varies on the animal and whether it needs to get spayed or neutered. The total fees, which can range up to $180, include the medical procedure, first round of vaccinations and microchip.
“The process is usually pretty quick – it all depends on the veterinarian’s schedule,” she said.
The Hollister Animal Shelter is unique in that it is operated by animal control officers. The shelter has three animal control officers and two animal control assistants on staff.
“We do animal rescues on the field and handle cruelty cases,” said Newman. The officers will also respond to cats stuck in trees, cattle blocking the road, and goats on airport runways – all sorts. “During the cold, winter months we will get calls about kittens crawling underneath car hoods to get warm and getting stuck.”
During the summer, a majority of the emergency calls the shelter receives are related to dogs being left inside sweltering cars.
“We go out, rescue and treat them on site,” said Newman, who explained that in most cases, the dog is fine after being cooled down and given fresh water.
“Animal control trucks have AC, which we use to cool the animal down. Thankfully, most of the time they are able to recuperate themselves,” she explained.
While it is okay for a dog to be left in a car, it is against the penal code for dogs to be left in hot vehicles without adequate ventilation, water and shade. “They cannot be in distress,” said Newman. It is up to the animal control officer on scene if they want to pursue criminal action for neglect. “A lot of people just don’t know. If it’s 90 degrees outside, it’s much hotter inside,” she said.
The Hollister Animal Shelter will also take in animals if their owners are evicted, incarcerated or otherwise can no longer adequately care for their pets. A pair of sheep housed at the shelter were awaiting their owner’s return. If the shelter cannot hold onto the animal, they will contact partner rescue agencies. “We work with a plethora of different rescue agencies. They may also have a better chance at getting rescued,” said Newman.
In a special section, removed from the other animals, are kennels for mean dogs that have killed or injured other animals.
“There is a whole court process to determine if the owner should still be allowed to keep them,” said Newman.
The shelter relies on donations and the dedicated officers that work there hope to expand the facility and install an artificial turf outside for the animals to run and play. The shelter also receives donations of blankets, cat and dog food, and toys.