Photograph by Kara Gentry

Daniel Frohman takes a break from playing Frisbee in Bryan Park to relax with his dog, Kiva. Kiva is one of the hundreds of dogs adopted out of the shelter, where adoptions are up and animals coming in are down.

Daniel Frohman doesn’t live far from Bryan Park. With its open areas, he goes there every day to walk his dog, Kiva. Today was no different. While some lay on blankets or watched the kids play, Frohman played Frisbee with his brother, Ben, and his brother’s girlfriend, Frankie. Running among them was his dog.

“We got Kiva from the Bloomington pound,” Frohman says. “We wanted a dog after we were out visiting some friends that had a really cute dog. … We were thinking the pound would be the best place and it would also help out.”

Frohman, a 16-year-old at Bloomington High School South, is one of the hundreds of people who adopt animals from Bloomington Animal Care and Control (BACC) every year. However, this is not a new trend. Since 2006, BACC has seen a steady increase in the number of adoptions combined with a decrease in the number of incoming animals.

“Some people really like a certain breed of dog, and I guess I can see why,” Frohman says. “But the reason to get a dog is not so you can know their genetics, but to have a companion. And you can do that from the pound, also.”

Why the rise in adoption

Every year the number of adoptions steadily grows, according to BACC annual reports. The number of adoptions in 2009 was 1,839, an increase of 156 since 2006.
"We really make an effort to make the community feel welcome here and feel a part of the success, and I think that helps." - Laurie Ringquist, BACC director
These numbers can be attributed to the work BACC does to market shelter animals and make them visible to the public through the Adopt Today campaign. It enlists local celebrities, such as Elaine Mellencamp, IU men’s basketball coach Tom Crean and IU women’s basketball coach Felisha Legette-Jack, to take their pictures with the animals for campaign ads. These ads are used to encourage the public to adopt from the shelter.

Frohman said he saw the Adopt Today ads around Bloomington, but they did not influence his decision to adopt Kiva from the shelter. “I have seen them, and they’re certainly in my head, and I’ve made the connection between them and the shelter. I’m sure they would certainly help other people’s awareness.”

However, BACC Director Laurie Ringquist attributes the rise in numbers to the public’s general awareness of the shelter, as well as campaign efforts. She has made it BACC’s goal to have the number of adoptions consistently rise each year.

“We really make an effort to make the community feel welcome here and feel a part of the success, and I think that helps,” Ringquist says.

Spay/neuter contributes to decreasing numbers

According to its annual reports, the BACC takes in almost 5,000 animals a year. However, from 2006 to 2009 the number of incoming animals decreased by 609.
"The more and more surgeries we do cumulatively, they are seeing fewer and fewer admissions to the shelter." - James McNamara, Pets Alive executive director
“The more animals in the community that are spayed and neutered, then it follows that the less births you are going to have, and the less animals that are going to be in the newspaper, and the less animals that end up here at the shelter,” Ringquist says.

A number of community organizations are focused on providing spay-and-neuter services to the public. One in particular is Pets Alive, a nonprofit organization that provides low-cost spay-and-neuter surgeries to animals in Monroe and surrounding counties.

“The more and more surgeries we do cumulatively, they are seeing fewer and fewer admissions to the shelter,” Pets Alive Executive Director James McNamara says. “We believe, and they believe, … that there is a strong relationship between those two.”

McNamara hears many misconceptions about spay-and-neuter surgeries. However, the only requirement is that an animal be 2 pounds or 2 months old.

“It is part of our mission to communicate the broader principle that there are too many pets and not enough homes,” McNamara says.

Shelter animals find loving homes

Because Kiva came from BACC, he was already neutered upon adoption. However, Frohman says that even if he hadn’t, he would not have bred him. And any future dog he has will be spayed or neutered.

“I think it serves its purpose,” he says about spay and neuter surgeries. “There are certainly enough animals as it is, so there is no reason to have more than we need.”

Frohman says that all of his friends get their animals from the shelter. Furthermore, when he tells people Kiva came from the shelter, the response is positive.

“They think it’s pretty cool,” Frohman says. “Just saving a dog from a shelter, and just helping it out.”

Kara Gentry can be reached at kajagent@umail.iu.edu.