By Kathy Antoniotti
Beacon Journal staff writer
If you have room in your home and your heart for a homeless animal, Summit County Animal Control has a deal for you.
Members of the Summit County Animal Coalition, which includes the shelter and many area rescue groups, are teaming up in an all-out effort to find homes for the abandoned dogs and cats currently housed in the downtown Akron facility.
''We want to get as many of these animals homes as we possibly can before we move. Moving would be very stressful for them, and we'd like to make a new start with fresh, new faces,'' said Craig Stanley, director of administrative services for the county.
Beginning Saturday and continuing through next week, adoption fees will be reduced to $10 per animal plus $14 for a dog license. The regular fee to adopt a dog is $90; cats are $60.
The Division of Animal Control will relocate to its new $2.96 million, state-of-the-art facility at 250 Opportunity Parkway the last week of July. The grand opening is slated for September.
Thursday and Friday, volunteers will bathe, brush and buff current shelter residents — about 80 dogs and 100 cats — for what is essentially a huge coming-out party for animals in need of homes.
Dubbed A Fresh Start for Our Four-Legged Friends, the animal adoption event will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the shelter's parking lot at 460 E. North St. Signs will direct attendees to park next door at the Akron Public School's transportation and distribution center.
Most of the animals will be vetted and available to take home Saturday, having already been spayed or neutered, vaccinated, de-wormed and treated for fleas.
Shelter veterinarians, who normally spay and neuter pound animals only after they have been adopted and paid for, have been altering the animals in unprecedented numbers in preparation of the event, Stanley said.
A West Akron animal rescue clinic also has helped to spay or neuter many of the animals.
''One of a Kind is altering more than half of these dogs and vetting some of them,'' board secretary Georjette Thomas said Wednesday while taking a break from bathing pound dogs at the clinic prior to surgery.
Adoption counselors from the rescue coalition will be on hand at Saturday's event to help match animals with prospective owners, said Jen D'Aurelio, executive director of Paws and Prayers Pet Rescue, one of the adopt-athon organizers.
D'Aurelio said she is concerned that the public's perception of pound animals is that they are feral or unmanageable.
''The majority of these dogs were in homes where people just couldn't keep them. They aren't wild or mean. They are fantastic pets,'' she said.
Her organization of foster home volunteers has rescued and found homes for more than 200 dogs from the shelter this year, she said.
''Jen is remarkable. She comes down and doesn't just pick up the cute, fluffy dogs. She always asks for the dogs that have been here the longest,'' Stanley said.
One of a Kind Pet Rescue has also arranged for public service announcements of the event on Rubber City Radio (WQMX-94.9 FM). While private funding has paid for a portion of the airtime, the station has donated a majority of the airtime, Thomas said.
''It's cool that they care about the community. They are really giving it a big effort to get the information out there,'' said Thomas, who speaks about animal welfare and adoptable animals at the station at 8:40 a.m. each Thursday.
WQMX morning show personalities Scott Wynn and Sue Wilson will broadcast from the event throughout the morning Saturday, Thomas said.
The Humane Society of Greater Akron, another member of the coalition, will guide people to the event if they can't find a match at the new Twinsburg facility Saturday.
''We'll MapQuest the directions to send them from here to the pound if they don't find anybody here to adopt,'' said Kristin Branagan, director of animal placement and education.
Humane Society volunteers also will be helping at the adopt-athon, she said.
D'Aurelio said she is determined to make the event a success and place every animal that needs a family to love with one.
''I'm going to take all my volunteers down here and find those animals homes,'' she said.
Anyone wishing to volunteer to bathe and groom animals prior to the adopt-athon can contact Summit County Animal Control at 330-643-2847. To help Saturday, contact Paws and Prayers Rescue at email@example.com.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Fresh Start for Our Four-Legged Friends adopt-athon will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Summit County Animal Control, 460 E. North St.
Starting Saturday and continuing through next week, adoption fees will be reduced to $10 per animal plus a dog license fee of $14.
Parking will be available next to the shelter at the Akron Public School's transportation and distribution center, 550 E. North St.
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