Wishing Tree ‘a howling success’

The West Point Clay County Animal Shelter decorated a "Wishing Tree" for the animals that are currently housed at the shelter until they are adopted. People came by the shelter and took a Christmas wish list for a homeless pet.
Staff Writer

As a closed shelter, the West Point Clay County Animal Shelter does not euthanize animals, either for space or for a length of time spent at the shelter.

Pets who are not adopted continue to live at the shelter until they find a family of their own. To make the animals more comfortable, the shelter likes for them to have toys, Kongs, blankets and beds.

"We wanted to do something different this year for the pets who have not yet been adopted," said Lisa Henley, director of the WPCCAS. "When we decorated the tree, we put the name of a pet and its Christmas list. We posted it up on Facebook and encouraged people to buy a gift for our shelter pets. This was our first year to do this and we were amazed at the results. All of the 61 dogs and cats on the tree had their wish list filled."

Melanie Elmore, who works at the WPCCAS, said they had no idea of how successful the "Wishing Tree" would be. She said everyone has been so generous in donating items on the wish list for the pet they chose.

"People have brought in huge bags of dog food, pet beds, toys, treats," Elmore said. "It went way beyond what was on the list. People in the community have made everything so nice for the pets who haven't found a permanent home."

Henley said when these pets are adopted, their toys, beds, everything that was donated to that specific pet will go with them to their new home. She said it would make the transition to a new home easier if the pet has some familiar items.

"This shelter would not be here without the generosity of the community," Henley said. "I honestly didn't know when we opened seven years ago, if we could make a closed shelter, with no government
funding, work. We continue to improve the facility every year. The donations to keep us open continue to come in and we supply a safe place for homeless pets and adopt out animals that are spayed and neutered, to loving homes."

Henley said she especially wanted to thank those who adopted dog's and cat's wish lists and donated beyond what was on the list.

"We had incredible response for our 'Wishing Tree,’” Henley said. "We received donations of flea and tick treatment and Heart Guard, both expensive items that we use on a daily basis to keep the animals healthy. As the first year of the 'Wishing Tree' we were overwhelmed by the response.

Everyone who participated came through in a big way for our pets."

Henley said if someone is considering giving a pet as a gift during the Christmas season, to be sure the recipient wants a pet.

"This is a commitment that is for the lifetime of a pet," Henley said. "It not only means food, it is flea and tick treatments. vet bills, shots, heart worm preventative for a dog. It is a big responsibility."

She suggested paying the adoption fee at the shelter and letting the person come and pick out the pet of their choosing for someone who is seriously wanting a pet.

"As someone who's job is finding homes for animals, some may find it strange that I don't advocate giving a pet as a gift," Henley said. "But it's just not a good idea. We did have a puppy recently adopted by parents for a child for Christmas. That is fine, because the parents are accepting the responsibility for the puppy's well-being within the family. The idea that grandpa needs a puppy or grandma would love a kitten, should best be left up to them."