BARSTOW The Barstow City Council approved changes, Monday, to various animal control fees most lowered.

The Barstow Humane Society had not changed it's fees for adoptions, licensing, et cetera, since 2004. Jeanette Hayhurst, who oversees the shelter, said the reason they needed to change the fees was to be sensitive to the economic realities of the community.

Hayhurst said Tuesday for the last few years more and more people have been abandoning their pets due to foreclosure or just tough times.

"A lot of people are faced with the decision, 'Do I feed my kids or do I feed my dog?'" Hayhurst said.

But not all surrender their pets to the shelter. The shelter takes about 250 stray animals each month. Some are abandoned in the middle of nowhere where, Hayhurst said, the animal has little chance for survival.

"What do you think, they're going to go hunt a rabbit?" Hayhurst questioned. "Maybe they can hunt a trash can."

One of the changes to the shelter's fees was to reduce the animal surrender fee from $40 to only $20.

"We understand times are tough," Hayhurst said. "But please do right by the animal and give them a chance."

In order to encourage adoption, the city also approved issuing a free one-year license for all dogs adopted by those who live in Barstow. The shelter also reduced adoption fees for most pets.

Since that time it has always been cheaper to adopt a puppy than it was to adopt a dog. But effective Tuesday, the fee for adopting a dog was lowered to $85 while the cost to adopt a puppy went up to $90.

"I think it gives (older dogs) a better chance at being adopted," said JJ Ramsey, who has worked with the animal shelter for five years. "No one wants an old dog."

The shelter euthanizes about nine times more dogs than puppies each month. Last month the shelter euthanized 87 dogs and only 12 puppies. Though puppies have a better chance of being adopted, the shelter actually adopts out slightly more dogs than puppies.

"We have people fighting for puppies," Hayhurst said. "But dogs, it's hard to get them adopted."

There were no changes to the shelter's license fee, which is $15 for a neutered dog or $60 for those without alteration. Hayhurst said the shelter and city have been cracking down lately on unlicensed dogs. Hayhurst said the city has been doing a sweep throughout Barstow and have sharply increased the number of citations given.

The final change to fees was the for microchip insertion, which was increased from $10 to $20.

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