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Local farm and animal shelters organize "Adopt, Don't Shop"

Families are introduced to local shelters’ pets at Stoughton Farm.
A local farm has teamed up with animal shelters and sanctuaries in the Tompkins County area in order to increase adoption rates. The collaboration, “Adopt, Don’t Shop” will bring the shelters and their animals to Stoughton Farm on weekends throughout the fall season so that families visiting the farm may be exposed to the adoptable pets. This joint effort is also aimed toward increasing the public’s awareness of the shelters’ missions.

Animal Care Sanctuary is among the shelters working with the farm. They were able to adopt out one dog, Tyson, who had been given to the shelter only a week ago. Tyson was visited by a family who posted a picture of him to their Facebook page. Within minutes, friends of the family contacted the sanctuary interested in adopting the newly sheltered pup.

The “Adopt, Don’t Shop” partnership offers the opportunity for animals to socialize with potential owners. Emily Gerth, the Adoption Coordinator at the Animal Care Sanctuary, said that the kennel environment is very stressful for animals, and giving them the chance to leave that environment for a few hours and interact with people will relieve some of that stress.

“When people come and visit the sanctuary [the animals] are in a kennel environment and when people walk by, they can act crazy and not like their true selves,” Gerth said, “Getting them out of this environment and having them interact more with people helps them learn to be a better pet and learn how to be calm and well behaved in different situations.”

Along with facilitating the promotion of the shelter animals at the farm, co-owners Jim and Deb Stoughton also cut a silhouette of a cat and dog, as well as the words “Adopt, Don’t Shop” into this year’s corn maze. The farm has been owned by the husband and wife duo for 11 years.

“We do try to make it something local and it can be challenging to figure out something people will be interested in,” said Tim Stoughton.

Community events like the one at Stoughton Farm are important for animal shelters and sanctuaries because they provide the chance for adoptable animals to find new homes as well as the opportunity to spread awareness of the shelters’ programs and services, Jim Bouderau, the Executive Director of Tompkins County SPCA, said.

Kristi Snyder was at Stoughton Farm on the 25th of October with a dog named Sawyer. Snyder, a board member for Stray Haven Humane Society and SPCA, explained that the “Adopt, Don’t Shop” event was perfect for dogs like Sawyer, who lack unique features and could easily be overlooked in a shelter. Community outreach events like the one at Stoughton Farm, “allow us the opportunity to showcase one or two particular animals,” Bouderau said. “We may choose to bring one of our shyer animals or one of our senior animals. It gives them a chance to “be the star” as opposed to possibly being lost in the crowd.”

This past week, over 31 animals have been adopted from the SPCA Annex in Tompkins County, but according to Bouderau millions of animals are still dying every year in shelters across the country. The shelters simply do not have the capacity or resources to manage them and not enough adopters to take them home.

“The whole point is they need to be adopted. They need forever homes,” Deb Stoughton said.

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