Apparently a lot of people around here are dealing with the stresses of this boisterous, harsh, contentious political season by following an old saying in politics:
"If you want a friend, get a dog." Or, we would add, a cat.
Whether that sentiment is sweeping the country or not, the Humane Society of Naples is enjoying a huge increase in adoptions, 43 percent ahead of last year, according to Andy Reed, the Humane Society's director of development.
"And last year was a record-breaker itself. We are on track to maybe even break three thousand pet rescues and adoptions in 2012."
Andy says a key to the run on dogs and cats being adopted here is the Humane Society's presence in Coastland Mall in Naples.
"It has given us a huge boost since we moved in there last October, after a pet store in that location closed. Of course our main location remains on Airport Road and has high visibility, but by also having the mall location brings even more potential traffic."
Andy also believes the difficult economic environment these days has an impact on pet adoptions.
"Whereas, the pet store was selling dogs for a profit and of course selling highly desirable dogs, purebred or toy breeds, the adoption fees we have are significantly lower. There may have been a certain population of people that would have gravitated to the pet store before, but now our price points are much more reasonable and it's a rescue in which the pet is not coming from, perhaps, an undesirable breeder." We asked Andy how the Humane Society handles marketing in their efforts to increase pet adoptions. We should have known the answer.
"The pets sell themselves. It's hard to resist a cute puppy or kitten that is out there, orphaned, and needs a home. We also make sure we have a wide variety of pets available here.
"We don't want to fall into the trap of the traditional view of a shelter, that all we have is large pit bulls that are aggressive and only senior cats. We want to have something for everyone when they come in to see the animals."
There is an economic downside, however, in the world of rescuing and adopting pets.
"It is a very difficult fundraising market now. The challenge we face is that, while it's imperative that we continue rescuing and adopting pets, the reality is, as that number grows, we lose money. It costs us additional money every new pet we adopt. The fees are as low as $25, even down to $3, with rebates, but we still have to pay the cost of sheltering and providing veterinary care for every pet.
"Some of them come in quite ill and it's a long process to treat a dog for heartworm and to nurse those ringworm and upper respiratory cats back to health. It's blessing and a curse. It's a blessing that we are helping prevent unnecessary euthanasia by adopting out more pets. But the economy has made it very difficult to increase the fundraising resources on an equal basis."
Many hopeful pet adopters begin their quest on the society's Web site, www.hsnaples.org.
"We get a couple thousand hits a day. The majority of the people who visit the website look at the pets available for adoption. Everything you see on the website is real time."
So, if you don't have a dog in the political fights, why not adopt one at Humane Society Naples. Call (239) 643-1880.
A footnote, or should we say a paw note:
As we write this column, we're looking at the society's web site and oooing and ahhing over the adorable, adoptable critters. That seemed to make our own beloved dog nervous. She whimpered and stared at us until we reassured her she is not about to be replaced. Whew!
Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV, in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Fridays in the Naples Daily News. E-mail: email@example.com.