The Athens-Limestone Animal Sanctuary has recently experienced an extreme increase in the number of animals being abandoned or brought into the shelter as strays. As of Tuesday afternoon, June 14, shelter staff have welcomed 226 animals since June 1, including 19 one-person cats.
“I think this is the worst we’ve seen in five or six years,” said shelter manager Priscilla Blenkinsopp. “Our donations have been wonderful, but we’re going through dog food like crazy.”
“So many people are losing their homes. They have to move and just can’t bring their pets. It’s number one. There are also a lot of stray dogs coming in,” she said.
June and July are often the busiest months for animal shelters, but this year has overwhelmed the staff. Blenkinsopp stresses the importance of neutering and neutering. “There are so many programs out there to help people with this,” she said.
Unlike animal rescue organizations, as the county animal shelter, Blenkinsopp and its staff cannot refuse animals — except aggressive ones — regardless of numbers and lack of space. The overcrowded situation at the shelter takes a heavy toll on the workers who spend countless hours caring for the animals. Many employees also welcome animals into their homes, coordinate the rescue, and use their own vehicles and time to transport an animal to that rescue.
Robert Pitman, DVM, has operated the Athens-Limestone Animal Sanctuary for nearly two decades. “Everyone is full. People still don’t sterilize. For 18 years, the laws regarding sterilization and sterilization have been on the books. There is a licensing program where they have to pay more for an unsterilized dog or not, but (law enforcement chooses) not to enforce it,” he said.
“We need to stop blind breeding. They should charge a breeding fee of $500 per year. If you’re going to raise them, pay them. They should have a business license,” Pitman said.
Despite the increase in numbers, the Athens-Limestone Animal Sanctuary has come a long way since Pitman’s arrival. “Eighteen years ago, I used 208 bottles of euthanasia solution. Last year I used 14. Sterilization and sterilization works,” he said.
Pitman praised the shelter staff. “I don’t know how they do it. They do a very good job. They even used their own vehicle to drive a dog from here to Jasper. They do, and they do it every day. It must be their calling,” he said.
At Peace, Love and Animals rescue in Tanner, they are also experiencing a high volume of animals. “We are a private shelter, but we are in the same boat as them. We’re just overflowing,” relief director Cathy Oakley said.
“It seems that this year we are seeing more than normal. I don’t know if people had pets during the pandemic and then didn’t have the money or the time for them. I just don’t know,” Oakley said.
Many people have brought in trapped feral cats, but these cats are a challenge for rescuers. “Feral cats don’t do well in shelters because if they have grown into adulthood feral, they will stay that way,” she said.
Oakley suggests that people consider having these cats neutered or neutered and returned to where they were found.
Oakley also spoke of frequent encounters with people who have reservations about neutering or neutering their dogs or cats. She wants people to understand the many benefits of neutering and neutering your pet in addition to population control:
• Eliminates the risk of testicular cancer
• Reduces the risk of prostate cancer
• Reduces aggressiveness
• Reduces marking
• Less desire to wander, thus decreasing the risk of injury
• Increases life expectancy
• No heat cycle
• Reduced risk of mammary gland tumours, ovarian and uterine cancers
“Dogs and cats just want to be your buddy. They just want to sit on the couch and rub your belly. Isn’t that what we want? Isn’t that why we have a pet? Having a companion,” Oakley said.
Athens-Limestone Animal Shelter and Peace, Love and Animals both run a foster program and welcome new foster homes. They also accept donations. Due to space, monetary donations are greatly appreciated. For more information on shelter, foster or adoption needs, call (256) 771-7889. To learn more about the needs of Peace, Love and Animals, call (256) 233-4343.