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Flathead County

Flathead County Animal Shelter Reduces Adoption Fees after $50,000 Donation

The financial incentives for adopting are coming at a welcome time for the county shelter, which is currently housing and caring for 34 dogs and 15 cats

By Mike Kordenbrock
Cuddles the dog peers out of her kennel at the Flathead County Animal Shelter in Kalispell on Jan. 25, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

A $50,000 donation to a nonprofit that works with the Flathead County Animal Shelter has significantly cut the cost of pet adoptions from the county shelter this holiday season.

While the donation to Flathead Shelter Friends has eliminated adoption fees at the county shelter for the time being, the shelter’s manager, Austin Hicks, said that there will still be some costs for adopting animals.

In the case of dogs, that will be a $45 license fee, and a $25 fee for cats. Normally, the shelter would charge anywhere from $125 to $75 for a dog adoption depending on the animal’s age, and anywhere from $70 to $40 for a cat adoption depending on the animal’s age.

Giving away animals for free can have unintended consequences, and Hicks explained that the shelter is maintaining the reduced fees to try and encourage people to more seriously approach the pet adoption process.

“Sometimes if they (shelters) give animals away for free, then people who may not need or be ready for an animal might go out and get an animal because hey, it’s a free dog. And then two days later they bring it back,” Hicks said.

The donation, announced earlier this week by Flathead Shelter Friends, has also allowed the nonprofit to increase its Senior Pet Veterinary Certificate payouts. Those certificates, which are given out at the shelter when someone adopts an animal age 7 or older, are typically redeemable at most county veterinarians for $250. The certificates are intended to help alleviate the cost of veterinary care that new owners might take on when adopting an older animal. Thanks to the recent donation, Flathead Shelter Friends President Myni Ferguson said in a press release that the Senior Pet Veterinary Certificates are now for $350.

“The Flathead Shelter Friends Board of Directors’ heartfelt gratitude goes out to this donor and all our generous donors who help to make Flathead County Animal Shelter the safe place it is,” Ferguson wrote in the press release.

The financial incentives for adopting are coming at a welcome time for the county shelter, which is currently housing and caring for 34 dogs and 15 cats.

“Any time we get above 30 dogs, we start getting a little bit nervous,” Hicks said. “We’ve got space for more, but being the municipal shelter, we have to take stray dogs in whether people find them or animal control brings them in.”

As of Dec. 13, the shelter had already brought in 937 dogs and 410 cats, for a total of 1,347 animals so far in 2023, which matches the shelter’s entire total intake for 2022, according to Hicks.

Of the animals brought into the shelter this year, 377 dogs and 273 cats have been adopted.

Hicks, who took over management of the shelter last March from longtime director Cliff Bennett, said that it’s been a year of learning and getting the hang of things, but that he’s looking forward to the coming year.

“Our end goal is to have this place empty,” he said.

For those interested in adopting, the shelter is doing dog viewings by appointment only. People can call 406-752-1310 to schedule an appointment. The shelter also has an online directory, complete with photos, of adoptable dogs, which can be found by clicking here.

Viewing adoptable cats is also on an appointment-only basis currently. People interested in scheduling an appointment are asked to call 406-752-1310. The shelter also has an online adoptable cat directory which can be found by clicking here.

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