Animal Shelter to host Clear the Shelter event


Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Madera County Animal Services director Cindy Avila holds Goldie, one of the dogs available for adoption. They are hosting an Open House Adoption event at the animal shelter on Saturday from noon-3 p.m.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it forced the Madera County Animal Shelter to shut its doors to the public. However, it has helped the shelter, but in the same time has hindered it, some.


On one hand, not having so many people come through the shelter has helped the dogs and cats. However, also not having so many people come through the shelter has caused it to become a little crowded. And, with the COVID restrictions lifting, more and more people are going about their daily lives and are not looking for an animal companion like they did during the pandemic.


“We are overwhelmed with dogs, right now,” said Madera County Animal Shelter Director Cindy Avila. “It’s a nationwide problem with shelters all over the country. It’s a result of COVID. When we re-opened, everyone stopped adopting. They went back to work or to school. All of the shelters are beyond full. That’s prompting us to do this.”


The Madera County Animal Shelter (205 Tozer Street) will join many other shelters throughout the country with a “Clear The Shelter” event on Saturday. The event will be an open house adoption event in which residents can take home a pet that same day. In addition to selling raffle tickets, other local animal groups will have tables set up for information. The event will be from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Dogs must leave with a leash and a collar and cats must leave in a carrier.


“It’s a nation-wide event that a lot of shelters are participating in,” Avila said. “Right now, we’re appointment only. On this day, we will have an open house. We are going to have a few other people here. The Boy Scouts will be here and they will have little games for the kids to play. We have raffle tickets available. Proceeds will go to help animals in need of vet care that come to the shelter. The public can see how we can play with the dogs and teach them. The adoptions for any dogs 40 pounds or over and over 6 months will be available for $25. That includes spade/neuter, all their shots, worming and all the nine yards. That special is going through the end of the year.”


In addition to dogs to getting adopted, a number of kittens, six months or younger, will be available at no charge.


“We had Nuts and Bolts, a local 501(c)(3) in Madera, sponsor the adoption of 65 cats,” Avila said. “We’ve already adopted some and there’s plenty left at no charge.”


Because the shelter has been open through appointment only, this is an opportunity for the Madera community to head to the shelter and see what dog or cat they may want.


“We’re just trying to get the community involved and to let them know we’re there and we need help. We have too many dogs and please come adopt.,” Avila said.


Although some dogs may not be spade or neutered at the time, Avila said Madera County residents will be able to take their dog home with them on Saturday.


“In most cases, if they live in Madera County, we will allow them to foster the dog,” Avila said. “They will take it home and keep it until we can make an appointment to get it spade and neutered. We only do that within Madera County. If they get too far out, we can’t get them back for their surgery. HOPE is our only low-cast spade/neuter clinic so it’s hard to get very many dogs fixed prior to the event. Fostering is another option and some people will be able to take the dog home.”


In addition to the open house, Avila hopes people will head out to see how they can help the shelter.


“We will be there to talk about us and the resources we have,” she said. “It’s a get together to come in, take a look and see what we’re doing.if you can help, they can sign up for volunteering. We are hoping to get the public more involved with us.”


Avila also wants to remind the public that this is the only time the shelter will be open to the public. After Saturday’s event, they will continue to open by appointment only.


“The whole COVID thing was a learning experience for all shelters,” she said. “What we found out is the dogs are staying healthier and are calmer without people coming through the shelter. They usually sleep during the day. When we were open, we had 50-60 people going through here and the dogs were going nuts. They were stressed to the max. Unfortunately, it is better for the dogs not to be exposed to that, day in and day out. For this day, anybody is welcome to come in.”


However, photos of all the animals to be adopted are posted on the Madera County Animal Shelter website.


“They can get an idea before they get here of what they want. It’s first come, first serve,” Avila said.