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Spring into a lifelong love match

More than a dozen Southern California animal shelters will participate in Mega Match-A-Thon

Posted: March 24, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 24, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Animal Control Officer Kim Schumann plays with Minka, one of the female domestic short-hair cats, in the cat habitat.

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Like all of his four-legged friends at the Castaic Animal Care Center, Sushi is looking for love. The young purebred Shih Tzu was found as a stray and came to the center a matted mess. With a bath and a haircut, Sushi is now one handsome little fella.

“He’s a very sweet dog, just really good natured,” said Kim Schumann, animal control officer and volunteer liaison at Castaic Animal Care Center. “Shelter pets aren’t second best. They just need a second chance.”

Making those second chances happen is the goal of the Mega Match-A-Thon taking place at 16 Southern California shelters, including Castaic, on March 30 and April 1.

Sponsored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Bark Animal Foundation, the Mega Match-A-Thon will offer half off adoption rates, personalized matchmaking by shelter volunteers and free goodie bags (including leashes, tags, collars and John Paul Mitchell pet products) for adopters.

By working together, the shelters are attempting to double the number of adoptions they made during the same weekend in 2011.

“With the help of ASPCA and our 16 shelter partners, the Mega Match-A-Thon will be the biggest-ever adoption event in Southern California. There’ll be more than 5,000 beautiful dogs, cats, puppies, kittens and bunnies hoping to find new homes,” said Melanie Pozez, founder and executive director of Bark Avenue Foundation. “The ability to find every kind of fantastic pet is available right at your local shelter.”

Lily, a pretty three-year-old black and white cat, is one of them. Abandoned outside the shelter, Lily’s now hanging around the center’s cat solarium, trying to attract interest and charm her way into a new home.

“Lily’s a plump little girl with tons of personality. She rolls on her back and wiggles around; she chirps and meows,” Schumann said. “All you really need is to walk into any county shelter and you’ll see why it’s best to adopt. The pets here need to get out. They
don’t deserve to be here.”

Finnigan, a two-year old Corgi/Spaniel mix, is also ready to meet his human match. The dog was found in San Fernando, injured after being hit by a car, with no collar or microchip. According to Castaic Animal Care Center volunteer Kyle Harris, who is fostering Finnigan and nursing him back to health, the dog was not a stray.

“He has good manners and he’s housebroken. Finnigan is great with other dogs, cats and kids. He’d be perfect for just about any owner,” she said.

In order to make the best pet/person match, Schumann and several volunteers will be on hand to meet with prospective adopters.

“We always ask, ‘What is your family like? Are you couch potatoes? Do you hike, bike or like the water? Are you concerned about long hair or short hair? Do you live in the country or an apartment?’” Schumann said. “People often think they want a certain  breed, but it may not be the right pet for them. We’ll say, ‘Let me show you this dog or cat. They might fit your lifestyle better.’

When a good match is made, most likely that pet won’t be returned back to the shelter.”

All Castaic Animal Care Center pets are sent home spayed or neutered, up to date on vaccinations and with a microchip, which makes adoption not only humane, but very affordable.

“It costs far less to be able to adopt an animal from the shelter than to purchase one from a pet store, where puppies are usually purchased from puppy mills. Store-bought pets are often unhealthy from being raised in horrific conditions, too,” Pozez said.

Sadly, due to lack of adoptions, 4 to 6 million adoptable pets are still killed at American shelters every year. That number is not only heartbreaking, it’s expensive. California alone spends approximately $300 million tax dollars a year housing and killing unwanted companion animals.

“Our belief is that if we can generate enough interest and exposure for these animals, people will have the opportunity to do right thing in their own backyard and adopt,” Pozez said.

Doing so is usually a very rewarding experience, Schumann said.

“A lot of these pets are older, they’re already housebroken, they’re past the puppy or kitten stage. They have a real need to connect with somebody. They want to be part of a family,” she said. “Oftentimes, these pets realize they’ve been saved, which makes them all the more loyal and happy and a joy to have around.”

Mega Match-A-Thon, March 30-April 1 at Castaic Animal Care Center, 31044 N. Charlie Canyon Road, Castaic. 661-257-3191. For more information, visit



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