PRINCETON – A kitten found abandoned on a home’s front porch and a stray dog that was found along a local roadway are among the many dogs and cats that keep straining the capacity at the Mercer County Animal Shelter.
The shelter’s personnel were busy Thursday as the cared for they many dogs and cats filling their facility. Executive Director Stacey Harmon said that the shelter is still on Code Red, meaning that they are at capacity. This Code Red was called earlier this month.
“I am still considered on Code Red,” she said. “I did move a bunch of animals out, but as soon as they left, they all filled right back up. I’m still sitting at around 70 dogs. Cats, I would say, probably around 25. I have a couple of runs outside, but I’m trying to bring all the dogs inside because of the weather, but I’m so full I can’t bring in what I really need to. But they are equipped with hay and houses, and usually I put the thick-furred animals outside.”
Harmon said she was trying to avoid euthanizing any homeless animals “at all costs.”
“As long as I can keep rotating one or two out the door,” she said of moving dogs and cats from the shelter. “I’ll use crates, offices, whatever I have to do to try to avoid that at all costs.”
Caring for so many dogs and cats strains pet food supplies, but the public’s generosity has helped.
“We were down to four bags. I did put a plea out to the public. The public really came together and we got quite a few bags. We’re probably good for another week or so at our current rate,” she said. “We can always use more because I have certain animals that have to be fed three or four times a day just due to them being from bad cases and they’re emaciated; so we have to feed them higher protein and feed them smaller meals several times a day. What they do is they can bloat, and that could kill them. They just gorge down the food. I can always use food, wet and dry.
Several factors have been bringing large numbers of homeless pets to the shelter.
“I’ve been here 10 years, and this is the worst year I’ve seen on record,” Harmon said. “Puppy and kitten season usually starts about March, but it’s usually over by June or July. It is still going on. I am still getting dogs and cats that are pregnant, which is unheard of this late in the year; so it’s just continued all year. It’s been a very difficult year.”
A lack of spaying and neutering increases the local pet population, and veterinarians are booked for the procedures weeks in advance.
“You’re looking at two or three months out to get an appointment and in that time a dog can get impregnated,” Harmon said.
People giving up their pets because they cannot afford to keep them anymore adds to the shelter’s population.
“They’re not being able to take care of them and they bring them to us,” Harmon said. “Right now I have a managed intake list for owned and stray dogs. Our animal control gets first priority for neglect cases, and I try to bring in strays as I can; but I try not to overwhelm because I don’t want to have to euthanize. I’ve prevented it, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.”
Harmon said that she would alert the public two to three days before an unadopted animal has to be euthanized.
“I’m trying to avoid that,” she said.
For more information about the Mercer County Animal Shelter, visit its Facebook page or contact the shelter at (304) 425-2838.
— Contact Greg Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org