More shelter dogs and cats are ?nding a permanent home in Ellis County.

A look at fourth quarter 2008 statistics for the Ellis County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shows an 18-point increase in the percentage of dogs and cats being placed in homes or claimed from the ECSPCA shelter by owners or rescue groups.

The biggest increase in pet placement was seen in December when the shelter placed 40 percent of the animals it took in.

“This is an encouraging trend,” said Dana White, ECSPCA director. “And our numbers for January and February are looking just as good.”

The ECSPCA receives an average of 250 dogs and cats each month. The shelter takes in stray and unwanted animals from throughout the county, partly from owners who no longer wish to keep their pets, but mostly from animal control of?cers under a contract with the county that makes the shelter the destination for the stray and nuisance dogs they capture.

In October, the shelter took in more than 300 pets and placed 66 of them. By December, the shelter took in 239 pets and placed 96, marking an unprecedented jump in the shelter’s placement statistics.

As opportunity allows, White said, the shelter staff and volunteers try to ?nd homes for as many adoptable pets as possible through pet adoption events and community outreach programs.

“Our goal is to take our adoption rate up as close to 100 percent as possible, but that will require the cooperation of all pets owners in the county getting their dogs and cats spayed or neutered so that there are fewer litters winding up as strays. And it requires that anyone who wants a dog or cat as a pet come and adopt one from the shelter instead of buying one from a breeder,” White said.

Of the 3,004 dogs and cats the shelter received in 2008, more than 700 of them were placed in homes, reclaimed by their owners or adopted by rescue organizations. Still, White said, there are more than 2,000 animals being euthanized at the shelter each year, a number she calls unacceptable.

“As a community, we’re discarding too many dogs and cats that could make wonderful pets if only someone would adopt them,” said White. “The problem is that there are simply too many animals and not enough homes for them in the area. But these recent ?gures are giving us hope that the tide is turning and that we’re making progress toward our goal of one day placing all the healthy and friendly pets we receive into permanent homes.”

The shelter makes pets available for adoption from noon-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and from 1-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. The fee for adopting a pet starts at $30, an amount that White said helps the shelter maintain its operating budget.

Additionally, the shelter’s adoptable pets may be viewed online at www.EllisCountySPCA.org.

The Ellis County SPCA is a 501(c)(3) organization located at 2570 Farm-to-Market 878 in Waxahachie. Anyone who wishes to contact the shelter may call 972-935-0756. Donations to the shelter are tax-deductible.