More than 7,000 animals called the Hesperia Animal Shelter home for at least a few days last year, looking out from their cages at passing families in hopes of finding a permanent home.


Of those animals, 2,099 were adopted or rescued and 683 were reunited with their owners during the 2011-12 fiscal year. A total of 4,463 or nearly 60 percent were euthanized.


"It's a special calling to do that and not everyone can," Cheryl Lewis, shelter supervisor, said. "They can hold them and comfort them in their arms. They can do it quietly, they can stroke their hair, they can say, 'It's OK.'"


The shelter is always looking for new ways to help get the animals out of cages and into homes. The shelter runs two ads in the Daily Press featuring 10 animals a month, posts pictures of adoptable animals on both Facebook and the city website, and uses the website www.adoptapet.com to reach potential families across the country.


The shelter has a "two for one program" that allows an adopter to take home two animals for the price of one. Also they work with PetSmart in both Victorville and Apple Valley to help find homes for the animals.


"We have a lot of dogs, and a lot of them are potty trained and ready to go," Kelly Malloy, city spokeswoman, said. "They just need a home."


Shelter workers are doing everything they can to not only decrease that euthanization rate, but also to make the animals as comfortable as they can be during the time they're at the Santa Fe Avenue location.


"The four days that they're here, we're going to give them food, we're going to give them shelter, we're going to give them love," Lewis said.


They also work to make the animals more adoptable.


"They work very hard to get these animals to be chipper and walk out that front door," Malloy said.


Most animals, from pure-bred German Shepherd puppies to kittens that are being bottle fed, don't stay at the shelter for more than 10 days.


"So what happens tomorrow when their time is up and this is full?" Lewis said from the shelter. "That's really when we really get on the ball with rescue groups."


Most animals are sent to a rescue, adopted, put down or claimed by their owners in fewer than 10 days, according to Suzanne Edson, Animal Control supervisor. However, she said cats have a lower rate of being reunited with their families.


"Owners hardly ever come look for their cats," Edson said, with cat cages often overflowing during kitten season April through summer. "People around here just assume that their cat got eaten by a coyote or disappeared and will never come back."


The shelter expressed the importance of spaying and neutering cats for many reasons one being health. Officials said spaying and neutering a cat will reduce the possibility of it getting tumors or cancer.


"It's a quick procedure," Malloy said. "It's fairly easy, and there are inexpensive programs that will save you in the long run."


The shelter also provides a microchip that's inserted in the animal's upper back in between the shoulder blades to help shelters locate the owner.


"Sometimes people forget: check the shelters," Malloy said. "Our goal is to get these animals home."