Pounds Fill Up

It is a trend happening at animal shelters here and across the country. They're receiving more dogs and cats due to the economy, and pet adoptions aren't keeping up. Pat Hernandez has more.
Hard times these days have put scores of former pets in the care of shelters. From job loss or relocation, it's the pets that lose out. Chris Newport is with Houston's Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care, or BARC.

"We've seen an increase of about 50-65 percent of folks that are turning in animals since the weather has increased, most of those are kittens and puppies."

Hernandez: "And they all have the same reason?"

Newport: "Yeah, especially now with the economic conditions, there's an increased number of folks who cite the fact that they just can't afford it, they can't afford the medications or, the folks are moving, they don't want to care for it or, they're just plain tired of caring for the animal and they're ready to move on."

Students in Exxon Mobil Community Jobs Program interning at Houston Humane SocietyStudents in Exxon Mobil Community Jobs Program interning at Houston Humane Society

But unlike other non-profit shelters, Newport says BARC has a budget because it's run by the city.

"We've got $5.208 million dollars that we're budgeted and that's $5.208 million dollars that's designed to care for 550 animals and we've got more than that, and we're always going to have more than that. So, it's a problem and the only real long term solution to it is spaying and neutering your pets."

Non-profits have it a little harder since they operate on donations. Monica Schmidt is with Houston Humane Society.

"We have more animals this summer being turned in to us right now than any other year before, and we have about 300 dogs in residence versus last year, where we had about 200."

Hernandez: "Do they have to give an excuse as to why they're dropping them off?"

Schmidt: "We have been seeing an increase in moving as well as you know, lost my job, downsizing, things like that. Where maybe they're moving but it's because they're moving from a house to an apartment, or a house to living with a family member because they've lose their home and things like that."

The Society is getting some help with the extra dogs and cats. College students are helping care for the animals. Diana Skates with Exxon Mobil says they're part of the company's Community Summer Jobs Program.

"It's really a great opportunity for them to kind of help out the agency because the Houston Humane Society has actually experienced a 50 percent spike in dog admittance. So, it's kind of hard for them to keep up, but these interns are actually giving them a great help by bathing dogs, walking them, just helping them out you know, throughout this process and its great help, great exposure for the Human Society to help adopt an animal at the same time."

For more information on volunteering at the shelter or adopting an animal, log to http://houstontx.gov/barc/index.html or http://www.houstonhumane.org.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF News.
Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...