Baltimore's animal shelter is reducing its adoption fees for the holidays, hoping to find homes for hundreds of dogs and cats, many of which have been given up by financially struggling owners.
"We're being inundated with healthy, adoptable animals," said Jennifer Mead-Brause, executive director of Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter. In addition to the usual number of animals that end up at the shelter, more pets are being surrendered because people can no longer afford to keep them, she said.
"We have people driving up in U-Hauls, dropping off their pets," Mead-Brause said. "It's heartbreaking."
Through Dec. 31, the shelter has waived adoption fees for dogs and cats 2 years and older, and is offering dogs and cats ages 7 months to 2 years for $10. Younger animals are available for the regular rate of $65.
Reducing fees for holiday adoptions is a new step for the shelter, which takes in 1,000 new animals a month, Mead-Brause said.
The poor economy has presented a double problem: Fewer people are adopting animals, and smaller rescue groups, facing financial difficulty, cannot afford to take in as many of the shelter's animals as they normally would, she said.
Mead-Brause called conventional advice against holiday pet adoptions a "fear-based reaction." She said ideal adopters are people who have already been talking about getting a pet and want to make a careful decision on adopting.
And, for those who are uncertain about choosing a pet for someone else, the shelter offers gift certificates, with the same reduced rates, she said.
Information: 410-396-4695 or www.baltimoreanimalshelter.org. The shelter, at 301 Stockholm St. near M&T; Bank Stadium, is open from 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 24 and will be closed Dec. 25.