Shoppers at Clifton Park Center might be picking up more than just toys, clothes and stocking stuffers this holiday seasonthey could be adopting pets.
The Saratoga County Animal Shelter opened a permanent annex at the shopping center in September to increase visibility and provide the community with a more accessible outlet for adoption. The grand opening was at the end of October, after the shelter was sure it would have enough volunteers to keep the annex afloat.
Something like this has never been done before in this area, so we wanted to make sure it was going to be successful," said volunteer Jeanette Sparks, who is in charge of the annex. "It requires a huge amount of volunteers"probably about 30"to run it on a weekly basis, so we wanted to establish a stable volunteer base, which we did."
The annex houses about 15 to 20 kittens and cats daily and tries to bring a dog every Saturday afternoon. Sparks said this isn't always feasible because it requires two volunteers that are trained dog walkers, per dog.
Sparks said the outpouring of support from the community, both in volunteering and adoption, has been overwhelming. Since Sept. 19, 128 pets have been adopted from the annex.
"It's incredible, it really is," said Sparks. "I think the success is a combination of the fact that we're there at night when people get out of work and it's a more homey atmosphere than coming into the shelter. People are always telling us they feel very comfortable coming here and the cats are more calm, peaceful and less stressed than they are at the shelter."
Saratoga County Animal Shelter Supervisor Daniel Butler said the annex is much easier to operate than the offsite adoption clinics the shelter would previously hold.
"A big group of volunteers would have to load animals up, set up and then tear down these clinics, whether it was at the mall or a community center," said Butler. "There's not a pet store in Clifton Park Center, so when the owner offered us a storefront, it was a great opportunity and deal for us."