On Saturday, Aug. 19, the Santa Monica Animal Shelter is encouraging locals ready to bring an animal into their family to choose a shelter pet as part of the annual Clear The Shelter campaign.

The campaign is organized by NBC4 Southern California and Telemundo 52. It includes discounted adoptions, a spotlight on pet issues, advice from experts and additional giveaways with newly adopted animals.

Local officials said they love finding Santa Monica animals a local home but it’s more important to match the right pet to the right family and if that means Santa Monicans find their new pet from a nearby shelter, that’s fine too. The key is reminding potential pet seekers that local shelters are a great place to find the perfect addition to their family.

“We don’t want anybody to adopt a pet that’s not right for their lifestyle,” said Alex Mendoza, Public Service Administrator for the Santa Monica Police Department – Animal Control Services. “We want it to be a mutually beneficial relationship for both parties, the people and the pet.”

He said local staff are ready, willing and able to provide advice to potential pet owners. For example, he said a puppy requires extensive care and socialization and while everyone loves a puppy, it might not be the right choice for someone that can’t spend long hours at home.

“Before you adopt a pet, determine if adopting a pet is right for you, consider the size of your home, amount of time you’re home on a daily basis, your time to walk the dog, if you have small children, if you have other pets in your home,” he said.

Mendoza said questions are welcome at the shelter any time.

“Our staff has a wealth of knowledge, several years if not decades of experience,” he said.

During the Aug. 19 event, VCA – Santa Monica Animal Hospital will be offering pet advice from veterinarians and pets adopted during the event will receive a limited health guarantee with a gift bag filled with pet essentials.

Mendoza said potential owners should bring some kind of identification with them and should have safe transport to bring the animal home. The shelter can loan individuals some basic equipment but he encouraged locals to bring their own leashes, crates or other equipment that can immediately begin the transition from the shelter to the new home.

While the adoption fee has been lowered to $20, animals residing in Santa Monica will still have to pay for a local license ($38 for dogs). Animals that will live outside the city will need to be registered in their city of residence and pay whatever fees are applicable in that jurisdiction.

The local fees cover Rabies and Bordetella vaccines, microchipping and spay/neutering.

Animals at the local shelter are either strays or pets whose former owners were no longer able to care for them. Mendoza said the local shelter has one of the lowest intake levels in the state and that allows them to hold animals for up to a year. If an animal can’t find a local home within that time, it can be given to a rescue organization and he said one local dog was recently flown to Virginia to find its forever home.

The shelter uses petfinder.com to list its animals but the online portal doesn’t display every animal housed at the shelter, just those currently up for adoption.

“We have a large number of kittens right now,” he said. “We have a hold period until they are old enough to be spayed and neutered, they have to be old enough to be adopted before they get seen by the general public.”

While Aug. 19 is a big public push, locals who don’t find the right fit that day shouldn’t give up. Officials said there’s no shortage of animals in need of homes and it’s worth rechecking local shelters on a regular basis.

The Santa Monica Animal Shelter is a division of the city’s police department. It’s open Tuesday through Saturday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and houses dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits and small reptiles. Aside from adoptions, the shelter also investigates complaints regarding animals, regulates dog parks, investigates animal cruelty complaints, enforces state animal control laws, handles pet licenses and provides emergency shelter for pet in a natural disaster.

The Santa Monica Animal Shelter located at 1640 9th St. For more information visit www.NBCLA.com/Community, www.santamonicapd.org/animals or www.petharbor.com.

editor@smdp.com

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