WATERVILLE — For the fourth year in a row, the three Inland Hospital departments have donated pet food and goods to the Humane Society Waterville Area in lieu of exchanging holiday presents among the staff.

The staff of the hospital’s cardiopulmonary department, the Sleep Diagnostics Center and the infusion services department donated dog food, cat food, cleaning supplies and pet toys to the Humane Society, which was delivered Friday.

“A lot of times animals fall to the back burner,” said Howard Mette, director of the three departments. “And the animals and pets that are not wanted could certainly use some holiday cheer.”

Nearly 2,500 animals in need are taken in by the Human Society annually, and after a busy summer and fall, humane society director Lisa Smith said the donations couldn’t have come at a better time.

The supplies collected and donated by the hospital staff will help the Humane Society fill the gamut of needs the pets they care for have, ranging from nutrition to cleaning needs.

“The holidays roll around about when we run out of necessary supplies, which never stretch completely through our busy season,” Smith said Friday. “We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of our community, which helps us take care of these homeless and abandoned pets.”

According to Smith, this year the shelter maintained an adoption rate of 96 percent, exceeding its previous live adoption and live release rate of 69 percent.

“The increased numbers of adoptable animals mean higher expenses for the shelter and a bigger demand for supplies,” Smith said.

Smith also pointed out that the “age-old myth that pets should not be given as gifts” has been disproved by recent research.

“In fact, these animals in many case are even more loved than animals chosen by an adopter for themselves,” she said.

Smith noted a blog post by Emily Weiss, who is the senior director of shelter research and development for the ASPCA, in which Weiss wrote that “there really is just no data to support that we should be denying the adoption of a dog or cat to person one who wants to gift a pet to a loved one.”

At a recent conference she attended, Weiss writes, she “shared some of the data on pets as gifts.

“There were several organizations in the room that had embraced the idea and were among the shelters who were conducting pet deliveries on Christmas Day. It was really great to see what happens when an old myth is busted and the lives that have been saved as a result.”

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

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Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate