The collection of dogs perked up as a visitor walked through the kennel area at the Charles Ise Memorial Animal Shelter.
The dogs, primarily mixed breeds, barked for attention as the visitor passed through the kennel area, but individually fell silent when the visitor paused before each cage for a look. The behavior seemed to be a quiet audition for a new home, the silence broken only by the rhythmic beating of a tail against the wall of the cage.
As the visitor walked to the door to leave the kennel, a collective silence fell over the kennel. Although it is national "Adopt a Dog" month, the kennel's inhabitants are oblivious to that fact.
Not so for the staffers at the Lawrence Humane Society, which operates the kennel at 1805 E. 19th St.
THEY ARE trying to promote the adoption effort by offering a free collar, leash and reflective tag to people who adopt dogs this month. A pet food company also is donating a 20-pound sack of dog food for each adopted dog.
People adopting a dog, however, must pay a $50 charge for spaying or neutering the dogs. The operation is mandatory for pets being adopted, said Roma Tesch, manager of the animal shelter, because the humane society is trying to control the pet population.
"Our main message from here is to spay and neuter your pets and put ID tags on them so we can get them back to you," she said.
Last year 437 dogs and 368 cats were adopted through the shelter. Another 561 dogs and 50 cats were reclaimed by their owners. But another 1,165 dogs and 972 cats were put to sleep because no homes could be found for them.
Through September of this year, 344 dogs and 293 cats have been adopted, 464 dogs and 71 cats have been reclaimed, and 825 dogs and 717 cats have been killed.
TESCH SAID the staff tries to match a dog with a prospective adopting person or family by assessing the needs and wants of the people looking for a pet. She said a fenced-in yard is ideal for a dog, but not mandatory. People adopting a dog also must sign a contract that explains required treatment for the pet.
Although the supply of animals is greater than the demand, Tesch said the animal shelter is careful with its adoptions. For example, she said students often fail to realize how hard collegiate living conditions can be on pets.
"They do not understand we're not trying to be mean to them, but that we're trying to be nice to the pets," she said.
On Tuesday, the animal shelter had 20 dogs for adoption, most of them were middle-sized and young, although past the puppy stage. The shelter is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, except holidays. People interested in adopting a dog or cat are encouraged to visit the shelter, or can call 843-6835 for more information.