Animal shelter celebrates milestone

Before even reaching its one-year anniversary, the Saratoga County Animal Shelter cat annex at Clifton Park Center Mall found forever homes for 500 cats. In honor of adopting out so many furry felines, and to thank the community for making the experimental venture such a success, the annex is holding a celebration at its mall location on Wednesday, July 28, starting at 4 p.m.

"We thought this was so monumental, why don't we have a public celebration to thank the volunteers and bring in more foot traffic. We'll have some refreshments," said Joette Aisenstat, a volunteer.

The annex started keeping track of cats adopted on the hundreds, so cat No. 100, cat No. 200, and so on, were recorded and photographed. Those pets and their owners were specifically invited to the "500 Celebration." Aisenstat said the annex reached its 500th cat around the beginning of June and is probably close to reaching 600.

The annex is staffed entirely by volunteers, about 60, and they split up between morning and evening shifts. The earlier shift is responsible for doing a thorough cleaning, which means changing the water and food, scooping the litter boxes and cleaning out the cages. Volunteers also take some cats out to play to provide social interaction. The evening volunteers do a lighter cleaning job and handle the adoptions and inquiries.

Aisenstat said the annex is a "real gift" and has provided the shelter with an offsite center to adopt out even more cats, in addition to what are adopted at the permanent location. She said the mall offshoot has become popular quickly.

"Everyone who comes in is delighted. It's different than the animal shelter setting because it's like a great big living room, with much less stress, no dogs barking, just homey and comfy. They stay here until they're adopted," said Aisenstat. "We have the public stop in and have hundreds of different stories of animals they've had, what they're looking for; it's almost like a haven for people to come in and talk about their cats. It's wonderful and should be celebrated."

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