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Tuesday, September 13th 2005
No Shelter Animals in Victoria Mall

Jenny Fisher, Newscenter 25

Posted: September 13th, 2005 - 07:10 pm

You won't be seeing shelter animals in the Victoria Mall anymore. As you may know, Adopt A Pet volunteers have taken dogs and cats to the Victoria Mall every Saturday for the past 14 years. Now, due to new renovations, mall officials say animals will no longer be allowed in the shopping center.

Adopt A Pet employees and volunteers are still reacting to the news because they’ve known for less than a week. Mall management said the shelter’s dog house needs to be moved within a week or so, but there is no set deadline. That decision is now affecting animals, dedicated volunteers and the community.

Every day, a small, tan dog named Larry walks Evan and Kyle Kasper to and from school. It's a great life for a dog who used to call Adopt A Pet home. His owners visited the shelter's mall location every Saturday for years before they chose him and have continued to stop by for the past five years. Diane Kaspar said, “We usually go by there and then get lunch and an ice cream cone and I'll look around here and there and then we go home."

Now, those visits are over. The Victoria Mall is no longer allowing the shelter’s colorful, Victorian style dog house in the mall because of renovations and new carpeting. Kaspar said, “We were really upset and it was something I was proud of the Victoria Mall-that we had something like that."

The news came as a shock to Adopt A Pet volunteers like Phyllis Hamilton who have seen regular visitors like the Kaspar children grow up. Hamilton has given up her day off for over a decade to take these animals to the mall. She said, “Labor Day weekend, we celebrated our 14th anniversary of being at the mall in our mall doghouse. Then, three days later, we got a phone call from mall management telling us they wanted us to leave the mall."

Adopt A Pet Volunteer Carol Klages said, “They could have asked us to come up with material that we could put down every Saturday on top of the carpet. There are a lot of things that could have been done and I just wish we would have had the opportunity to talk with the mall before we were kicked out."

Hamilton said the mall doghouse made a difference for both the homeless cats and dogs and the community, by offering free education and advice on everything cat de-clawing to spaying and neutering.

Newscenter 25’s Jenny Fisher said, “Going to the mall not only provides educational opportunities, but adoption opportunities. This dog is named Annie and as you can see from her gray face, she's an older dog. I'm told going to the mall gives her one-on-one attention with volunteers and the mall's visitors. Plus, all that visiting in a quiet area away from barking dogs increases her chances of getting adopted."

Klages said, “I was there this past weekend and we had eight adoptions. We did 8 adoptions at the mall between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m."

Newscenter 25 also talked with Rosana Shoemake, in mall management, by phone. Shoemake said the mall has given the shelter an estimated $200,000 in the 14 years of free space and the ability to take donations. She said Adopt A Pet could set up a booth with pictures if volunteers were there, but no pets.

Adopt A Pet officials say experience has shown that without pets, people won't stop to talk. They added that the mall was generous in the past for allowing homeless pets, but officials say the mall never gave the shelter money, even in space, because there was never an agreement with the mall's past owners to pay for space since adopt a pet is run on donations. Instead, it was simply a community service the mall provided.

We also received a call from John Gibson, who is the president of Whole Storey Retail, which is the company that owns the Victoria Mall. He said he is prepared to work with Adopt A Pet, but that for now, with all the renovations, it won't be with the same structure. So now, Adopt A Pet must remove the giant doghouse from the mall within the coming weeks."

Here is a photo of my cat, "Mango" (aka Bessie) adopted in June 2005 from Adopt-A-Pet.

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