‘Christmas in July’ benefits local cats and kittens

Published 5:03 pm Wednesday, July 15, 2020

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For the Washington Daily News


One woman’s effort to get local cats adopted has always been informal, but it has also been crucial to getting the word out that “Christmas in July” is now in full swing at the Betsy Bailey Nelson Animal Control Facility.

Employees and volunteers at the animal shelter say that summer — not winter — is the time to give the present of a “forever home” to a feline in need, and a heartwarming addition to the families that adopt them.

“They deserve a break,” said Dottie Walker, who has spearheaded the summertime adoption effort for several years. “Animals fly out of here during Christmas season. But as much as we want them adopted, that’s not the best time because of the stress of the holidays — not to mention the possibility that they might not be wanted by the person who gets them as a present.”

Walker said the idea took shape during a conversation with Dr. Marty Poffenberger, longtime president of the Humane Society of Beaufort County and part owner of Pamlico Animal Hospital. The women found themselves discussing the gift-giving rush that takes place every Christmas season, and the lack of interest about pet adoption during warmer months when cats are the most active.

“Dottie very faithfully and diligently gets the message out that these animals need good homes. She does a wonderful job getting pictures of a dog and a cat into the Daily News every week. She does a wonderful job,”  Poffenberger said.

Walker said there wasn’t a “Christmas in July” event last year, but she’s relaunched it now because the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more difficult for people to become aware of the need to adopt a cat during the summer.

“People can’t see display about orphan felines at the (Brown) public library — which might bring them to the shelter — because (the library has) been closed since March,” Walker said.

Animal Control Chief Billy Lassiter confirmed the value of Walker’s public information efforts.

“June is the start of cat season. The feline ‘heat’ cycle runs from March through September with a two-month gestation period, so a cat can still be nursing and still get pregnant again,” Lassiter said.

Lassiter said 189 cats have been processed at the Beaufort County Animal Shelter between June 1 and July 13.

“Our monthly numbers usually double during cat season, because of all the extra kittens produced during the season,” Lassiter said.

Walker, who visited the shelter during the first week of July, said, then, there were 15 cats at the facility.

Lassiter said the animal shelter, which has 47 cat enclosures of several sizes, is now near capacity with 35 felines waiting to be chosen by someone who can care for them and give them a permanent home. He said it’s heartbreaking to see all those cats and kittens waiting for adoption.

“Of course, we want to keep all of them ourselves, but we can’t. We don’t have enough room here or in our own houses,” Lassiter said.

The Beaufort County Animal Shelter is located at 3931 U.S. Highway 264 East in Washington. Anyone interested in adopting a cat should call the facility at 252-946-4517 for an appointment.