By Hannah Mackenzie
COLUMBUS, North Carolina (WLOS) — A Polk County animal shelter is at critical capacity.
According to Foothills Humane Society, the shelter has taken in more than 900 animals so far this year. The shelter is being inundated with stray animal intakes and owner surrender calls.
“Every single cage is full,” said Erin Lantz, kennel coordinator with Foothills Humane. “We don’t have an empty cage.”
The Foothills Humane Society kennel coordinator said the shelter currently has 50 dogs and 110 cats under its care. Its kennels are full and so are all the foster homes.
One dog, a three-year-old boxer/retriever mix named Kimberly, was adopted from Foothills Humane Society as a puppy. She is now back at the shelter.
“She was returned because the owners are moving and they decided they no longer wanted to keep her,” Lantz said.
According to Lantz, the shelter is so full, it’s currently unable to accept owner surrenders. She said they get seven to eight calls per day of people asking to surrender their pets, and the humane society’s waitlist has grown to more than 35 names on it.
Lantz said the numbers are unprecedented; the animal shelter is overcapacity and understaffed.
“Everybody here comes in early and they stay late,” Lantz said of the staff. “There’s very little time for anything other than basic necessities which includes cleaning kennels, walking dogs and meeting adopters.”
Overcoming the overcrowding starts with spaying and neutering your pets, Lantz said. Foothills Humane Society offers free and reduced cost programs for Polk County residents.
The shelter also recommends owners microchip their pets. If a pet gets out or goes missing, Lantz said, the return rate success is astronomically higher when the pet has an up-to-date chip.
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