Can’t handle pet Christmas present in Butler County? Return to shelter or rescue

Butler County animal shelters and rescues said they’re prepared for the inevitable: New pet owners who suddenly realize getting a dog or cat for a Christmas present was a mistake.

Directors of these facilities said unwanted dogs and cats should be returned to the shelters or rescues where they were purchased as a first option. They said some pet stores and breeders refuse to take back purchased pets.

Terra Bowser, executive director of Animal Friends Humane Society, and Meg Melampy, executive director of Joseph’s Legacy, a Butler County animal rescue, said they typically see more animals needing re-homed in January and February after families have had time to realize they can’t care for the pets.

“That’s when they understand the animal is not a fit for the family,” Bowser said.

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When asked what that family should do, she said, “What’s in the best interest of the animal and that’s finding a home.”

She said AFHS, Butler County’s largest and oldest non-profit animal shelter, holds the county contract. AFHS has 25 dogs, about half of its capacity, Bowser said. That number fluctuates because a large number of dogs may be removed and need to be placed if their owners are evicted, she said.

Melampy said if an animal is re-homed, the owner should make sure the new owner is “very trustworthy” and will provide “a good home.”

She said the rescue has 50 to 60 cats and 30 to 40 dogs available for adoption. Around every holiday, Melampy said potential owners are tightly screened to make sure they’re a good fit for the animal.

Joseph’s Legacy has a lengthy application for potential adopters. In part, the contract stipulates the adopter agrees the animal will be kept as a domesticated house pet, the adopter grants Joseph’s Legacy the right to make periodic visits to the adopter’s premises for the purpose of checking on the health and general welfare of the animal and to verify that the animal has been cared for according to the terms of the agreement and if for any reason the adopter is unable to provide care to the animal, the adopter agrees to return the animal to Joseph’s Legacy.

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