Staff at the Vincennes Animal Shelter are on a mission to place adoptable animals into their forever homes in time for the holidays.

“The holidays can be especially hard around here,” said shelter director Leah Reagan. “That’s why we work so hard to get them into a home in time for the holidays.

“Because it’s sad when you walk through here and see those big, sad eyes looking up at you, and you know you can’t take all of them home.”

The shelter today is opening its doors from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a $50 special on all adoptable cats and dogs.

The shelter, located at 1128 River Road, Reagan said, is at about 80% capacity right now, and due to an overwhelming number of cats and kittens, they must begin moving some of them out.

“If we continue to take in animals at the rate we’re going, we’ll be full in no time,” Reagan said. “We’re at capacity with kitties as we’ve had a second kitten season this fall.

“We still have bottle fed kittens in foster — in November,” she emphasized.

Recently, she said, the shelter took in 25 un-weaned kittens in just two days.

They also have upwards of 20 dogs in need of good homes.

“And being a no-kill shelter, when you’re full, you have to stop taking in animals until you can move some out,” she said.

“We need to get our numbers down,” she said matter-of-factly.

And while Reagan believes the holidays are the perfect time to welcome a cat or dog into your home, it shouldn’t be done without thoughtfulness, she said.

Anytime someone comes to the shelter in search of a pet, staff and volunteers make it a practice to encourage them to really spend time with a dog — even multiple dogs — to ensure they find the right fit.

So many dogs are abandoned or returned to the shelter because their temperaments aren’t what the family hoped for or expected.

“We very often have people come in, and they’ll be here for ten minutes and say, ‘I want that dog,’ ” she said. “But we try to encourage them to take the dog for a walk, spend some time with it in one of our play yards, spend some real time with the dog, see its personality.

“Because in just 5-10 minutes, you can’t really do that.”

Shelter staff and volunteers make it their job, too, to get to know each one of the animals, especially the dogs.

On their kennel doors are a list of likes and dislikes as well as important behavioral information that can be helpful in making a selection, things like whether or not a dog is good with other dogs, cats or even children.

The signs, too, point out special needs; one dog, in particular, up for adoption right now is blind and will require special care.

“We try to learn as much about them as we can so we can help people make the right decision,” she said.

Reagan is hopeful to see several animals find their forever homes today, she said, but they plan to do more adoption events between now and Christmas.

And while she is eager to see animals adopted for the holidays, she never recommends someone give a pet as a gift to someone else.

The bond between a person and their pet is as important as any other relationship.

“The person getting the animal needs to pick it out,” she said. “It’s important that you feel that bond with the animal.

“You may have the best intentions, but it’s a 10-, 15-, 18-year commitment, so that person needs to be part of the process.”

Reagan said since the shelter is near-bursting with cats and kittens, locals can find pretty much anything they want — black cats, orange cats, tabby cats, calico cats, older cats, and kittens, too.

The shelter doesn’t right now have any puppies, but they have many, she said, at the 1-2 year mark, which she believes is a great time to bring a dog into your home.

“We take them in at that age a lot, so that’s what we often have the most of,” Reagan said of young dogs. “And it’s a good age, because you don’t have to deal with potty training or the dog chewing things up and getting you up all throughout the night.”

But they have older dogs, too, in desperate need of loving homes.

“I, myself, prefer to adopt older dogs because they know who they are,” she said, a warm smile spreading across her face. “You can easily see their personalities, who they’re going to be. And they’re usually just more chill.”

Adoptable dogs are typically $110; puppies are $200. Cats are typically $80.

Adoption fees, too, include spay and neuter costs, annual shots, flea treatments, de-worming, microchip, etc.

For more information, visit the shelter or call 812-882-8826.

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