Young Williams Animal Center is sending dozens of animals home to their new families this holiday season. But, the shelter reminds, this is a commitment that lasts even after the holiday cheer fades.

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It is an unusual sight for Young Williams Animal Center-- empty stalls, quiet pens, and a limited selection for those looking to adopt.

"Happy holidays! Empty building!" said Monica Brown, director of shelter operations. "We sit and look at these 'empties' with tears in our eyes because it doesn't happen often."

Brown said Tuesday morning, the shelter had about 150 animals in the building -- a low number for them. YWAC launched their "Home for the Holidays" special last week and saw a surge of adoptions follow.

"Since Friday when we started the process, 110 adoptions!" she said. "And we are just rolling through the animals."

Courtney and Mallory Jenkins came right when the shelter opened at noon Tuesday looking for a kitten for their father.

"We're trying to get it for today to surprise him tomorrow morning," Courtney said, explaining the family had recently lost another pet.

Timber Williams was also picking out a "gift" Tuesday.

"I love all animals, but for my grandma and grandad this Christmas, I want a playful kitten and a loving kitten," she said.

Brown remembers a similar trend last holiday season.

"Last year on Christmas Eve we had 25 adoptions," she said. "If we do 25 adoptions again this year, we'll probably not have anything left on the adoption floor."

It is a temporary situation for the shelter, which routinely fills with animals throughout the rest of the year. Many families don't consider the commitment an animal requires, and end up returning the pet post-holiday.

"The returns really start happening later in the month of January," Brown explained. "Because it's fun with the kids home and they can help take care of them, but once they're back in school it falls on mom and dad to make sure the new family member is taken care of.

Brown said of the 7,000 adoptions at Young Williams last year, the return rate sat at about 26 percent.

"We can reduce prices here all day long," she said. "But you still have vet bills to pay, you still have to worry about feeding the animal and we want to make sure you're prepared for the animal you're going to take home. We'd love to send them all home."

YWAC is running a "Home for the Holidays" special through the end of the year:

  • Puppies and kittens: $50
  • Adult animals up to the age of 7 years: $25
  • Adult animals 7 years and older: $10

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