BY CAILYN HINKLE
DeLand’s New Hope Animal Shelter is waiving the adoption fee on all cats, and is no longer taking in stray cats.
The shelter will instead focus on owner-surrendered cats. The change to the new program was sparked by Maddie’s Fund, a foundation that supports animal shelters.
“They are pushing other shelters to move in this direction, so we jumped feet first,” Tray Black, the executive director of the shelter, said.
According to Black, the change was spurred in part because stray cats are not suited for shelters.
“A lot of people trap the cats and bring them into shelters, and they don’t do well,” Black said. “They’ve lived outside their entire life. They hate the cage. They don’t show well in the cage, and when they get adopted, it’s our highest return rate.”
Black said there are still other options out there for stray cats, such as DeLand’s Cat Colony Caregiver Program and other feral-cat colony programs.
“A lot of these are community cats anyway,” he said. “So, people think that no one is feeding them, when actually five to 10 houses are feeding them.”
Black explained that because the shelter was normally full of stray cats, they often had to turn away people who were faced with circumstances in which they needed to give up cats.
The new program is designed to eliminate that problem, making space for previously owned cats who need a new home.
The new program also eliminates cat adoption fees, including charges for shots and procedures like deworming, spaying or neutering, and microchipping. Instead, the shelter will rely more on donations.
“We are encouraging people who surrender their cats to pay for the adoption,” Black said. “So, [we’re] asking them for a donation. We used to have an intake fee, but we are just asking for a donation now to cover the adoption cost.”
Formerly known as the West Volusia Humane Society, the shelter changed its name last year to avoid misconceptions about its funding.
“A lot of the community thought we were funded by the county because of the name, and we are not,” Black said. “We are a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3).”
New Hope Animal Shelter started the new cat intake and adoption program in January. The program has been a major success for the shelter, and as a result, the shelter’s cat adoption rate has increased.
“Adoption has definitely increased since we started this program,” Black said. “It was probably 75 percent dogs and 25 percent cats, and now we are running at about a 50-50 ratio.”
For more information or to make a donation, visit the shelter’s website, www.newhopeanimalshelter.com.