Free adoptions at Contra Costa Animal Services to ease shelter overcrowding

Contra Costa County Animal Services in Martinez is offering free adoptions this weekend as a way to alleviate shelter overcrowding. "So we want to make it easy," said Beth Ward, director of the Contra Costa County Animal Services Department. "Let's get 'em in. Let's get 'em out."

Ward has been director since early November. She's set a goal. "It's about saying 'yes' to saving lives, Ward said. That means getting creative to get animals adopted, and giving them more time to find new homes.

"Saving lives is hard," Ward explained. "Euthanasia unfortunately is the easy route and we've chosen to take the harder road." In 2011, less than half the animals at the Martinez shelter were adopted. Today, 75% are rescued or adopted. "Is there room for improvement? Certainly," Ward remarked. "We can do better. We can do more. But it shows this shelter, even before my stepping into the position, has been making a trend towards saving lives."

One big change Ward has made is getting animals spayed and neutered when they come into the shelter, rather than waiting until they're adopted. "Now you don't have to wait," Ward said, pointing out the animals can go home the moment they're matched. "You know, we're in a society where people want to have immediate satisfaction!"

Ward said it's about breaking down barriers to adoption, whether that's the cost of adopting or the time it takes to get them new homes. Berkeley, a pit bull mix, has been at the shelter for 3 months. That's longer than any other resident, but he's not out of time to find a forever home.

"It's just getting people into the county shelter and realizing what great dogs we have," said volunteer, Allyn Lee. "We're sort of addicted!"

The free adoptions are at the Martinez shelter at 4800 Imhoff Place. They're open Saturday, January 16th from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 17th from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.