A free adoption week for black cats and kittens begins Monday at the Copperas Cove Animal Control facility.

The City of Copperas Cove Animal Control facility euthanized 519 cats in 2013, which was more than half of the 950 impounded.

In 2014, impounded cats are seeing a much brighter future, thanks largely to the efforts of a compassionate, hard-working staff member, Aleea Best.

Best started working as an animal control officer in Cove last summer. She noticed cats were not adopted as frequently as dogs and there are fewer cat cages (12) than dog cages (43) at Animal Control resulting in higher euthanization rates for the felines.

Best said the cat cages are constantly full and it is harder for older cats to get adopted. When people come to the shelter, they want young cats or kittens.

“I really saw the numbers. I saw a big difference and saw the need to do something to get the animals out,” she said. “I can have a 7-year-old orange tabby male, neutered, and (customers) will still say they want a kitten. We have some really nice cats who work their way into my heart and I just want to give them a second chance.”

On a good week, Best said she gets one adoption. So she learned to depend on animal rescue groups.

“I started to work with animal rescue groups and started sending them photos and talking with them about our animals,” Best said. “I am thankful for the rescue groups because they are willing to work with me to give these cats a chance.”

Texas Humane Heroes in Killeen and Pet Connect Rescue are the two rescue groups that take most of the cats before they are euthanized, Best said.

Animal Control volunteer Karen Sherman appreciates Best’s dedication to keep the cats from being euthanized.

“She spends many hours after work either caring for fosters she has taken home or contacting groups to help save our cats,” Sherman said. “I just feel like no one else has ever taken that kind of initiative before. I have been at the shelter a long time and seen many cats euthanized that otherwise could have had productive lives if we had taken the time to find those rescues,”

Starting Monday, the Animal Control facility will offer free adoption of pets with any black fur on them. The free adoption program goes through April 26.

Best said she came up with the idea after reading an article in the Cove Herald about Black Dog Syndrome, which indicates animals with dark fur do not get adopted as frequently as other colored animals.

In the first quarter of 2014, 139 cats were impounded, 52 were euthanized and 36 were taken by animal rescue groups.

For Best, her work and dedication to the animals will continue.

“What I get to do is very rewarding. I love it,” she said. “I am lucky. My hobby is my job.”

Contact Wendy Sledd at wsledd@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7476

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