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If they are lucky, the potential family pets at the Stafford County Animal Shelter have someone waiting in line for them before the facility even opens
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By LEE WOOLF
THE DAUGHTER of a friend happened to visit the Stafford County Animal Shelter recently before the facility opened at 11 a.m.
She was surprised to find out that the first people in line had arrived at 4 a.m. to ensure that they would be able to adopt a special puppy that was becoming available for the first time that morning.
I was surprised, as well. And I wondered how unusual it was for there to be a waiting line for pet adoptions.
"It's not that unusual," said Donna Hart, the shelter manager. "For someone to come at 4 a.m. is pretty early. Most people arrive about 10:30.
"But I remember that particular puppy. It was a black and white Shih Tzu. And that's one of the most popular breeds--especially when we have a puppy."
Hart said the all-time record for an early arrival was established a few years ago by a young man who arrived at the shelter's gate off Eskimo Hill Road at about midnight.
"He had picked out a little Rottweiler puppy and wanted to be sure to get it," Hart recalled.
Stray dogs or cats without any identification become eligible for adoption on their sixth day at the shelter. Animals with a collar are eligible for adoption on their 11th day, and after an effort is made to contact the owner.
"People will stop by and see a pet that they want, but that hasn't become eligible for adoption yet," Hart explained. "Then they will come back early on the morning it becomes available. It amounts to a first-come, first-served arrangement. And as long as they meet our requirements, they will be able to take the animal home."
In order to adopt a pet from the shelter, a person must be a resident of Stafford or a neighboring county, have proper identification and not be on the shelter's "bad" list for past transgressions. The person also must agree to have the animal checked by a veterinarian and spayed or neutered within a required time period.
The adoption fee is $20 for dogs and $10 for cats.
I thought it was wonderful that even occasionally there was a line of eager pet-lovers waiting to provide a safe home to a wayward dog or cat.