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Humane Society provides a safe haven
"Max, a cross between a Dalmatian and Pointer, presses his wet nose against the chain link of the kennel, his adolescent derriere obediently pressed against the floor.Other stray or lost dogs excitedly whine in nearby holding pens, their cries echoing sharply throughout the expansive room. Even so, Max remains still, intent.He is on his best behavior.Max is a 12-month-old puppy with a penchant for cuddling and chasing down stray tennis balls. He also happens to be up for adoption at the Kitsap Humane Society in Silverdale, just as more than 4,700 other pets, including cats, rabbits and birds, have been so far this year.Though his previous owner loved him, Max also had a tendency to chew up plastic deelie-bobs while the family was away. Consequently, Max ended up at the Central Kitsap animal shelter, despite his virtues, and is currently looking for a new, more chew-friendly home.Max's situation is not unique to other animals living temporarily at the Humane Society.Many times, when a puppy's still a cute, cuddly, small pet, their antics are OK, said Kathy Cocus, the development director at the Humane Society. But when they get bigger and still act like puppies, some owners aren't prepared.Like Max, dozens of other dogs currently looking for homes are adolescents, canines making that awkward transformation from cute puppy to medium-size or big dog.Sometimes pet owners are surprised when nearly grown-up dogs still behave like pups and get into mischief.Other pets end up at the Humane Society because their owners find they can't cover growing veterinarian bills, or their health problems become too overwhelming or unique to get a handle on.Other animals currently housed at the Humane Society were simply abandoned or picked up as strays.Unfortunately, there are just not enough homes for all the pets, said Cocus. We've had people walk though the kennels with tears running down their face because they can't take all the dogs.Of the 4,746 animals picked up by the Humane Society so far this year, 1,713 have been adopted, 509 were returned to anxious owners, and 418 were euthanized at the owner's request because of old age or illness. The rest couldn't be placed permanently in a new home and were put to sleep. Sometimes strays are too ill and are euthanized, or temperaments are just not suitable to family life.When looking only at the raw numbers, that's a sad fact. But volunteer Janell Dato of Silverdale takes a more positive approach.The 20-year-old, who is one among 600 active volunteers for the Humane Society, plans to earn an Associated Arts degree in science from Olympic College. She wants to transfer to a four-year college and earn her degree in zoology so she can work with larger animals.Dato says she's been volunteering at the Humane Society for several months and has been enjoying the experience, even with all that she's had to do.Dato walks dogs on the wooded trails surrounding the Humane Society, bathes them, cleans laundry and kennels and takes care of scared animals when they're first brought into the shelter.I don't focus on whether a particular animal will be adopted, she said. I just think, 'you're going to go to a great home.'Kitsap attorney Lynn Fleischbein, a volunteer over the last two years, also thinks positively about the entire experience which, in some ways, could be heart breaking.The Humane Society is a safe haven for animals, she said. Whenever animals are taken to the Humane Society, they are getting a chance they may not have otherwise had.When the chances pay off, pets enter into happy, loving homes. And that's what it is all about, said Fleischbein. The attorney says she has worked with the society on fundraising events. Fleischbein feels raising money for the non-profit group gives animals a better shot at a new life.On any given day of the week, prospective adopters stroll about the Humane Society kennels, looking for that perfect companion for a loved one, child or entire family.Cocus says adoption counselor Barb Fish works with the Humane Society to best match up pets with families.When you meet, you will just know, she said. It will click.The counselor can recommend particular breeds or a particular dog or cat with certain dispositions to the needs of specific families.And, if a particular dog or cat appears amendable to a would-be adopter, both human and pet can saunter outside for a closer look-see.Enclosed areas are positioned just outside the animal shelter, where single dogs especially, can move about more freely during the day. Wannabe adopters can also try to bond with the pet of their choice.The Humane Society has been housed for 11 years in a Silverdale building, near a transfer station, but the non-profit organization itself has been around since 1908.Since that time, the group has placed thousands of pets throughout Kitsap County. Max hopes he's next.He is a medium-sized, adolescent dog. His adoption profile indicates he may be tempted to chew, but he can sit, stay and get down on command. What the papers won't tell you, though, is that he wags his tail while gazing at you with those rich, tea-colored eyes.I know Max will be adopted by a great family, said Fish. "