Animal shelters contend with growing population

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It is that time of year as County animal shelters start to fill, and with the many impacts of the pandemic, this year is more than normal. In a normal year, as it gets warmer, every spring and summer is kitten season and people drop off kittens, and the county’s Animal Services find strays. “It is almost like a wave,” said Kelly Campbell, director of Animal Services with the county of San Diego. In addition to kittens, Campbell said it has several “lovely dogs” that it has taken into its care at the county’s two locations.

“With the challenges that a lot of folks are experiencing economically or personally right now, it is not anyone’s fault that they cannot keep their companion animal,” said Campbell. “If an animal needs to come to the shelter, we are very happy to bring them in and be able to provide them with a home. We are guaranteeing that every healthy and treatable animal will be placed in a home environment or foster environment. We are committed to that every animal gets placed. No one is in any danger in our care, but they would be so much happier in a home environment instead of in our kennels.”

Campbell said with the recent wave, it has a range of around 400 animals across both shelters, with a recent intake of 50 single cats that put a strain on its capacity.

“Many of them are lovely cats that just need a safe place to land and a family that is willing to have a little patience. They may be a little shy, but they are awfully sweet,” she said in hopes to connect people with the right animal for them. She said its primary calls for action right now is four-fold. First, Animal Services is asking people to adopt. If adoption is not possible, consider becoming a foster care giver.

“That way you can help shelter an animal, give it a taste of living in a home environment and provide that enrichment and socialization, and personal attention that the animals with thrive the best,” she said. “My preference is always to see an animal in a home rather than a shelter.”

Campbell said if you cannot adopt, consider becoming a volunteer.

“Our volunteers do amazing work for our animals here,” she said. “Everything from laundry and cleaning, to grooming and dog walking, cat socialization. They really are the backbone of the association and they put a lot of heart into the care of these animals while they are here with us with the animals in the shelter. But all of us here would love to see them go home. If you cannot adopt, cannot foster, cannot volunteer, consider donating to our Spirit Fund.”

The Spirit Fund is a medical fund for animals that come into care that need more extensive attention. Whether that be specialty medical or other generally more expensive procedures such as orthopedic surgery. If a stray dog is hit by a car, the Spirt Fund helps to support that in making sure that it can provide that animal with the best care possible.

Due to the pandemic, the shelters are still operating by appointment for adoption, and Campbell said if someone is interested in adopting and see an animal they would like to learn about, they can submit an adoption application, or give the shelter a call and make an appointment. And, due to the large increase in animals, the shelters are having adoption specials to help these animals find forever homes.

Campbell said that originally, the promotions were good through the end of August, but with so many good animals to choose from, they are extending these specials through September.

Animal shelters contend with growing population