Not even Al Qaeda could tell this puppy “NO!”

The puppies at the Rita B. Huff Animal Shelter are devious in their schemes. They snuggle without permission and act cute at inappropriate times. In public, they consistently catch the attention of attractive college women for their male owners, even when ordered not too. But the cost is not radical for a pet that only wants affection and a home to call its own.

“Basic price is only $75 whether it is a dog or a cat,” said Marjolein Lemmon, the manager of the Rita B. Huff Animal Shelter for 18 years.

Five hundred animals call Rita B. Huff home every month, yet only 85 of these are actually adopted. While pure bred animals can cost a fortune, the shelter’s $75 price tag includes the pet’s first shot and wormer, spay or neuter and rabies vaccination. Dogs are tested for heartworms while cats are examined for Feline Leukemia.

When it comes to college students owning a pet, Lemmon encourages people to think before they jump to conclusions on what animal they want to bring home.

“If you live in an apartment, get a cat or a small house-broken dog,” said Lemmon. “If you live out in the country, you can take two big Rottweilers if you want.”

She explained that puppies or kittens require much more attention than the rest of the animals. Puppies will need to be let out every hour unless you want them to defecate in your DVD player. Older pets are less likely to have a mental collapse if you spend most of your day in the classroom. While some breeds are labeled as more aggressive than others, the shelter’s manager has found many of these to be hopelessly affectionate.

“Many of these dogs, like Chows, Rottweilers and Pit Bulls, are tagged as aggressive but are just babies instead,” she explained. “It really all depends on how they’ve been raised or how you’re going to raise them.”

The shelter’s surgeries to neuter and spay the animals are performed each Thursday. Later that afternoon, you are allowed to take your new pet home. Puppies under four months old or three pounds are too young to get fixed, and though you can still take them home early, the shelter requests a $50 deposit returnable upon that pet’s surgery.

While it may seem unnecessary to some people to neuter or spay these animals, there are many benefits to this operation. Fixing a pet decreases the likeliness of aggressive or free roaming behavior. These pets are even less susceptible to certain cancers. Finally, it eliminates the chance that your pet will have offspring that may never find a home as well.

The amount of money invested in your new friend will depend on what kind of friend you adopt. For dogs, food can run anywhere from $240 to $600 a year. Cat food can cost a measly $120 to $180. The Rita B. Huff Animal Shelter provides the pet’s first shots, but in order to be completely immune to common diseases, they will need two more follow-up shots a couple weeks down the road. These cost between $50 and $70.

After about four months, dogs and cats will get their rabies shots and, if they are healthy, will only require a annual visitation to the vet for a rabies booster and combination shot. Look to spend around over $115 on dogs and $135 on cats for these medical procedures. Other expenditures include heartworm preventative for dogs, which is applied after the animal is six months old.

“Just think about how much time you have and how much money you’re willing to spend on toys, food and etc,” Lemmon said.

Every four-legged resident of Huntsville’s animal shelter has its own card describing how the animal got there and what condition they are in. Sometimes the animal is already housebroken or fixed when you walk in the door.

Besides adoption, the shelter is always looking for residents or college students to volunteer their time to assist the shelter in playing with cats, walking puppies or working fundraisers.

Those that choose to exercise their right to own a pet from the Rita B. Huff Humane Society should visit with extreme caution. If you sit on the pavement, you will be consumed by a large platoon of three-pound mischievous canines. The pooches’ objective: cuddle their target into potential heart failure. Whether you enjoy pets or not, it is nearly impossible to leave the parking lot without a new friend in the passenger seat.

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