As part of an effort to clear the Santa Clarita Valley’s only animal shelter, the Santa Clarita City Council welcomed a four-legged friend to the dais Tuesday during its meeting.
Khaleesis, a German shepherd mix, is currently available at the Castaic Animal Care Center, according to city officials, who welcomed the dog to celebrate its inaugural Pet Adoption Week.
“She’s a surrendered dog looking for her new forever home,” said Carrie Lujan, city of Santa Clarita spokeswoman, who added that the pooch with the “Game of Thrones”-inspired name “loves belly rubs and has a calm demeanor.”
During the PAW, all adoption fees at the shelter are going to be waived, said Santa Clarita Councilwoman Marsha McLean on Tuesday, as she introduced the 2-year-old.
“Partnering with the Castaic Animal Care Center and the L.A. County Department of Animal Care and Control, this week will be dedicated to encouraging residents to adopt an animal,” McLean said.
City staff members are also hopeful a pet-adoption event Saturday will encourage more residents to adopt.
Tracy Sullivan, community preservation manager for the city of Santa Clarita, said the week was chosen after conversation with care center officials about the best time to help the rehousing effort.
During the week, the city is making $10,000 available to make pet adoptions free for all animals at the shelter, Sullivan said, adding the partnership sprang from a City Council request made over the summer.
Sullivan said the funds would be enough to cover at least 60 adoptions, which was a goal for the week.
The shelter had 55 dogs and 16 cats listed on its site as of Wednesday afternoon. There’s also a guinea pig named Napoleon, who’s on a stray wait, and a rabbit named Lucky and an unnamed tortoise who are both “ready to go home.”
In May, residents came to Santa Clarita City Hall, including volunteers, to express concerns about the number of animals at the shelter, asking the city to look into the creation of its own.
The council voted in July instead to figure out more economical ways of support, including this week’s pet drive.
During the initial discussion, McLean said the Castaic Animal Care Center is already tasked with the responsibility, and if the city built a shelter, it would disincentivize investment from the county.
“In 2022, the live release rate for dogs coming in from the city to Castaic Animal Care Center was 89%,” according to a previous city staff report. “The live release rate for cats was 86%. Taking the average over the last five years, the live release rate for dogs was 91%, and the live release rate for cats was 81.6%.”
While the county Department of Animal Care and Control maintains pet-adoption data, city officials confirmed that 252 dogs were adopted in 2022, along with 186 cats and 53 animals in the “other” category, which could include everything from rabbits to horses. These are only animals adopted out to city residents, per officials, not the shelter’s total.
The city’s presentation Tuesday is not unlike a county tradition that’s taken place for years, the Pet of the Week, which 5th Supervisor Kathryn Barger now promotes on social media as well, continuing a tradition started by her predecessor, Michael Antonovich.
Barger has helped a combined total of 380 cats and dogs find homes through her weekly promotion, according to Helen Chavez, communications director for Barger. Barger said the effort to help, for her, was a “personal calling.”
Saturday’s event is scheduled to happen at the Mitchell River House at 16950 Lost Canyon Road from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Castaic Animal Care Center is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and no appointment is necessary.