Claire Switala, 6, squealed with delight when her mother, Sharon, took the tiny peach-colored tabby kitten out of the cage and put it into the child's arms.
The Switala family of Perrysburg, which also includes Claire's father, Joe, and brother, Jack, 4, were at the Toledo Area Humane Society in Maumee on Friday when the doors opened at 11 a.m. to take advantage of $5 Fridays, a promotion the group held in June to encourage more cat and kitten adoptions.
Claire sported a pink T-shirt with a gray and white cat face on it.
"I wore it especially for today," she said.
The family, which has been without a pet for two years since their last cat died, had been talking for several months about getting a kitten. The $5 Friday special simply sweetened the pot, said Mrs. Switala.
Theodore Avery of Toledo was also at the humane society Friday to take advantage of the deal. He picked out a calico kitten that looked similar to his 12-year-old cat, Tootee.
"I'm looking forward to watching them play," he said.
The promotion resulted in 25 to 40 adoptions on each of the Fridays in June, when the average for an entire week is normally 70 to 80.
Thanks to promotions like $5 Fridays and "Yappy Hours," another weekday discount program that ran during June, the humane society has not had to destroy an adoptable animal so far this year because of lack of space, said John Dinon, executive director of the organization.
It is Mr. Dinon's belief that the discounted prices do not result in sub-par adoptions.
"So far, our experience is in line with recent research that the strength of a person's bond with a new pet is not related to how much they pay for the pet," Mr. Dinon said. "We have not seen a significant change in the return rate with discounted adoption fees. We do the same screening and counseling, which I think is more important than how much we charge."
Planned Pethood, a Toledo rescue group, conducted a two-day adoption drive June 23 and 24 with a similar concept of deeply discounted adoption fees. The goal was to adopt out 100 animals; the group found homes for 116.
Before the event, the group had about 150 cats and 67 dogs in its foster-care adoption program. At the event, adoption fees were reduced to $5 for cats and $15 for kittens. All black dogs and senior dogs were $5, and all dogs that had been with the group long term were $50. All other dogs were regularly priced, from $125 to $150.
Price reduction is a radical idea, said Nikki Morey, executive director for Planned Pethood.
"To some, they feel it devalues the animal," she said.
However, despite the lower prices, all normal screening processes were followed during the event, and the search for great homes was the group's first priority, she said.
"The adoption of animals in reputable rescue is a losing business model," Ms. Morey said. "The longer an animal stays with us, the more money we invest into the animal and the fewer animals we can save."
Back at the humane society, Mr. Dinon said the group will continue to monitor whether adoption promotions have any effect on the adoption return rate.
The $5 Fridays special was for the month of June, but the humane society is considering extending it because of a continued overload of cats and kittens, he said, which is typical for the warm-weather months when cats tend to breed.
"One issue is that we lose money on every adoption [even at regular adoption fees], so we need to make sure we are able to balance the budget even with the promotions," he said. "The mission is to save lives, not balance the budget, but we can't save lives if we go broke."
In conjunction with the Independence Day holiday, the humane society is offering "A Fourth Off" adoption fees on all dogs and puppies (over the age of four months) and $4 adoption fees for all cats and kittens through Sunday.
It's not only adoptions that are being discounted. Local low-cost spay and neuter group Humane Ohio offered special rates even lower than their normally low fees for cat spays and neuters during the month of June. The group neutered more than 100 male cats through its "NO Father's Day" promotion ($20 to neuter male cats) and has more than two dozen more appointments set.
The group spayed 115 female cats through the "Beat the Heat" promotion ($20 to spay female cats) and has almost three dozen more appointments scheduled.
In February, when the group also ran the discount on spaying female cats, 326 were treated.
The Toledo group's next promotion is its yearly "Primp Your Pit" promotion in which the group will neuter or spay 100 "pit bull-type" dogs for $20 for any pet owner in Ohio or Michigan. The deal includes free grooming and nail trim at Penta Career Center/Small Animal Care.
"A healthier pet means less trips to the veterinarian, and more money saved," said Jill Borkowski, the group's marketing manager.
Contact Tanya Irwin at: email@example.com or 419-724-6066.