FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Forsyth County Animal Services knows there’s no place like home for the holidays, especially for their four-legged friends.

In an effort to make sure that no pet is in a cage on Christmas morning, the shelter has waived the usual $85 adoption fee for all animals. This is the county’s fourth annual “Home for the Holidays” adoption program and it runs until Jan.2, 2021.

The free adoption also comes with a spay or neuter, age-appropriate vaccinations and a microchip which shelter staff said would cost upwards of $400 at a veterinary clinic.

While their goal is for the animals to find a home, shelter Director Cindy Iacopella stressed the permanence of adopting a pet.

“It's not something we advocate just to put something under the tree — it is a lifelong commitment,” Iacopella said. “It's a very important decision that the whole family needs to be on board with.”

Iacopella said that adoption and foster rates spiked in April as people found themselves at home with more free time, but it is starting to level off.

“Back in March with the first shutdown, our adoption rates as well as fostering rates, went through the roof,” Iacopella said. “We were able to place almost every single animal that came in through our doors. But as people went back to work and things got closer to normal, the adoptions decreased.”

While the pandemic has changed a lot of the procedures at the shelter, staff has found some silver linings. Due to the shelter’s procedures changing and requiring appointments for adoption, they have been able to make more personalized matches of families with animals.

“The adoption appointments have given us more one-on-one time with the adopting families and getting to know their lifestyle and needs,” Iacopella said. “It's given us this opportunity to be more of a matchmaker and find them a compatible animal for their lifestyle, and it's been very successful.”

Iacopella said she recognizes that adoption is not an option for every family right now, but there are plenty of other opportunities to help out.

Fosters play a huge role in keeping the shelters from getting overfilled and give the animals a less stressful environment while they look for their forever home. Especially right now, there is a need for foster families for kittens at the shelter. Those interested in becoming a foster family can call the shelter at 678-965-7185 and speak with a foster coordinator.

Additionally, the shelter is always in need of supplies like toys, blankets and food. A complete shelter wish list can be found on the county’s website at www.forsythco.com.

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