The new center, which drew an appearance from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and earned an official proclamation from the city, aims to deal with San Francisco’s increasing number of cats put up for adoption, and decreased number of people willing to adopt them.
“The trouble is a well-documented ripple effect of the recession”, said Animal Care and Control Director Rebecca Katz. From 2008 to 2009, the city’s pet shelter population rose 18 percent, a sudden increase of about 425 animals.
“We had one woman in our lobby crying as she gave up her cat,” Katz said. “She told her [cat], ‘I have to live in my car; it’s not fair that you have to. ”
For the first time in recent memory, Katz said, the shelter went two weeks in August without adopting out a single adult cat.
Mike Murray, director of community relations for Pet Express, said it could be that potential adopters suffer from “shelter fear” – the undesirable thought of heading into a city shelter, where desperate stray dogs and cats bark and screech for attention.
“In times like these, shelters bear the brunt of the load,” Murray said. “It’s where they get the surrenders, the strays. It’s kind of the final stop.”
The idea of opening an adoption center in the Market Street outlet, the company’s highest-traffic spot in the Bay Area, was an attempt to bring the animals to the people. On Saturday afternoon, the shiny center was stocked with 12 cats, and interest was strong.
Customer Yolanda Curtis, a Diamond Heights resident, was shopping for dog food and gave the center a good look and a quick walkthrough. “I’m a dog person myself,” she said. “But my sister – she could use a companion. … Maybe I’ll send her here.”