‘They deserve a chance’; Pet of the Week feature leads to 90% adoption rate  

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Sam is lab mix available for adoption at the Cullman County Animal Shelter. (Cayla Grace Murphy for The Cullman Tribune)

Pet of the Week feature leads to 90% adoption rate 

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Tribune has hosted its Pet of the Week feature for several years, and Cullman County Animal Shelter Manager Andrea Hudson was thrilled to share, “When a dog is pet of the week, most of them get adopted within a few days. We’ve got about a 90% adoption rate for our featured pets.” 

Hudson said higher adoption rates are due to a community focus on training and behavior modification to make the animals adoptable, spotlighting the animals in a local publication and the shelter’s re-education efforts for the public about shelter animals in general.  

“There is a stigma about animal shelters. We’re trying to re-educate the public on that. We want to let them see that we do care, we do work with them, we want to place them with the right home to make sure they don’t end up back here,” said Hudson.  

Hudson said the general public’s opinion about animal shelters can sometimes be less than positive, and that can negatively affect the adoption rate at some shelters.  

“That’s what a lot of people don’t realize,” she said. “These dogs, they deserve a chance.”  

Donna Ruttkay, volunteer and dog trainer at the shelter since 2016, comes in daily to work with the animals. She uses a combination of whistles, gestures, outdoor recreation and even a splash of German commands to help the dogs understand what will be expected of them in their new homes.  

“Many dogs come to us with no leash exposure, jumping, no boundaries or anything,” said Ruttkay. “We help them understand behavior modification to make them more adoptable.” 

Hudson also wanted to give a special thanks to East Point Animal Hospital, the shelter’s veterinary partner. “East Point is amazing!” she gushed. “They will work us in no matter how busy they are, because they understand the gravity of what we do here.” 

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