GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Christmas came early for 15 pets at the Jackson County shelter. New owners brought them out of their kennels, giving them a new chance at life.
"Its really easy to adopt a cat that needs a good home or a dog that needs a good home instead of going out and buying one," said 15 year-old Nicole Lunsford as she browsed through the shelter. "All of these animals are really attention-deprived, and they need homes."
Shelter director Bill Richman agrees.
"All the pets we get at the shelter, they're unwanted for one reason or the other," said Richman. "And they're really looking for attention, looking for a good home. And they make great pets. Shelter animals make great pets."
Saturday's pre-Christmas adoption day was a success in Richman's mind. But Saturday, like most days, there were more pets than owners. For every animal that's adopted from the Jackson County Animal Shelter, five are left behind. Not all of the animals that come into the shelter are eligible for adoption, but Richman said the numbers are still staggering.
"Its terrible," Richman said. "Some people don't take care of their pets, and they end up here. Or for whatever reason, they have to bring them here."
The shelter takes in nearly 7,500 dogs and cats each year. Richman hopes the pets adopted Saturday don't add to the number.
"This is not a toy you buy at Walmart," Richman said. "This is a living being that has a lot of love to give and needs a lot of love in return."
Richman said first-time pet owners should be aware of the committment that goes into providing a suitable home for an animal.
"For a small dog or cat, it can be $20 or $30 a month just for feeding and care. Then you have vet bills," Richmcommitmentsp;"It could be several hundred dollars a year to care for the pet properly."
"You have to spend a lot of time with your animal and make sure you train them correctly and just make sure that you care for them completely," said Lunsford.
These dog and cat lovers said anyone who is prepared to give a pet a new home will get plenty of love in return.
"They'll always love you and cheer you up," said Lunsford.
"They give a lot more than they get, these pets do," Richman said.
Richman said the most effective way to prevent animal overpopulation is to spay and neuter your pets.
The Jackson County Animal Shelter is open and adopting pets Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Christmas. Their phone number is 228-497-6350.