Shenandoah Valley Animal Service Center faces overcrowding

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 6:18 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - NPR reported many people have returned their pandemic pets to shelters, or they’re considering doing so.

Some worry their pet will be lonely all day, and some don’t have time to care for them.

The Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center is an open-intake facility, which means they have to take in pets that are brought to them. When their cages are full, it’s a problem.

A guest visits with cats at the Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center on Friday, July 23....
A guest visits with cats at the Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center on Friday, July 23. (WHSV)(WHSV)

“Here recently, we’ve definitely seen adoptions slow down,” said Animal Care Shelter Manager Hannah Richardson. “It’s causing us to become very tight on space. While we are making it work, at some point, the balance is just off.”

She says they’re not able to keep every pet that comes in.

“At some point we are going to have to make decisions about who’s adoptable, who do we think we can move out.”

In some cases, moving pets out involves them going to a foster or a rescue. Sometimes, though, it’s not a happy ending.

To avoid euthanizing any pets, many staff members have started working after they get off and on their days off.

“It’s so stressful on staff. That’s why staff have been posting on Facebook, trying to get the word out. They’re doing everything that they can,” said Richardson. “They don’t want to have to make that decision.”

Richardson says eventually, it becomes inevitable if they want to continue to provide care.

“It’s really sad, but at some point the balance is off and we have to make sure there’s space open.”

Not only is the shelter seeing their normal runaways and strays, but they’ve also seen some pandemic pet surrenders. Richardson says most of the pets in that situation they’ve taken in aren’t ones that were adopted through them.

“People that have gotten pets from friends and family or from Craigslist and just don’t have time for them,” she said.

Now that people are going back to work, many say they don’t have time for their furry friend.

“There’s not as much time to focus on training, exercising an animal that is very high energy,” she said.

Richardson urges if you can’t take care of your pet, don’t just drop them off at the shelter. “We always recommend calling us ahead of time and giving us as much notice as you can.”

Before dropping a pet off at the shelter, Richardson says you should look at the resources available on their website and explore rehoming websites, including Facebook groups created for that purpose.

“We’re always here to consult and give you those options and help walk you through that process and if the animal ends up coming to us, at least we can say we tried all that we could,” said Richardson.

She says if you’d like to adopt, now is a great time. With as many pets as they have , Richardson says they can help you fight the right one.

“You’re saving a life,” she said.

If you’re not able to adopt, you can foster, donate supplies or money, share posts on social media, talk to friends and family and take a dog out for a day.

“Taking a dog out for the day, getting them out of the kennels gets them exposure to the public and it also helps with their behavior here at the shelter,” Richardson said.

The Shenandoah Valley Services Center has cats, dogs and a variety of other pets.

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