September 13, 2023
By: Catherine Wilson
Published: April 27, 2022
It’s a Friday afternoon and the Humane Society of the New Braunfels Area Executive Director Sarah Hammond is in crisis mode.
The shelter is already at capacity and a mom with her litter of 11 puppies estimated to be around six weeks old has just been dropped off.
The new additions bring the facility’s total to 78 canines and Hammond now has to scramble to make room. Every in-house kennel is occupied, including the ones designated for adoption holds and those reserved for quarantine, and portable kennels crowd the hallways. There is nowhere to put them.
For weeks the Humane Society has been stretched to its limits and it shows little to no signs of stopping. Without the resources to handle the shelter’s load Hammond is now being forced to consider the worst case scenario.
“We’re in crisis,” Hammond said. “If we don’t get fosters and volunteers in here fast it’s going to mean that (some) little animals are going to be euthanized through no fault of their own.”
While the Humane Society is considered a no-kill animal shelter, which is 90% no-kill, it is not immune to the inevitable moral dilemma that many shelters all over the country face in order to survive — lower adoption costs in the hopes of luring in potential owners and risk the financial backlash — or start looking at which animals have the least potential for adoption.
“When we’re this full and when we’re worried about money (there are) decisions we have to make,” Hammond said. “Can we help this (animal)? Yes or no? And if we can’t, then really, euthanasia is the only other option.”
The Humane Society cares for about 4,500 animals every year and is responsible for vetting the animals they take in, seeing to the basic needs of the animals and facilitating their adoptions. Financially, the shelter relies on stipends from the city for every animal they take in along with adoption costs, and receive additional financial help from donations and a few fundraisers.
However, it isn’t enough to sustain the shelter’s operations with the rising costs of services and goods due to inflation, which has gone up another 1.2% as of March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
With its limited staff, the Humane Society is dependent on help from volunteers and those willing to foster animals until they can be adopted — and right now those are too few and far between.
Lately the shelter has been overwhelmed by the influx of animals brought in by Animal Control and the animals surrendered by their owners because they can no longer take care of them.
According to data provided by the nonprofit Shelter Animals Count’s national database, over 500,000 animals were surrendered by their owners to shelters around the country in 2021. Based on a rehoming survey conducted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, most animals are rehomed or returned to shelters due to behavioral problems, the size of the animal and health problems.
The current state of the shelter is there are too many animals and not enough people adopting them, Hammond said.
One solution she and her team came up with is to lower adoption rates to attract more potential adopters — however past adopting specials have failed to produce more adoptions.
“Sometimes just reducing the adoption fee is enough to get people in here but sometimes it’s not,” Hammond said. “(We) can’t just give them away.”
Every time the Humane Society lowers its adoption costs it means less money coming into the shelter to care for the animals that remain.
As for the shelter’s uptick in animals being surrendered by their owners, the Humane Society is encouraging owners to hold out until they have the resources to take these animals in.
“We’re providing a service by taking in these animals, we need these folks to meet us halfway,” said Stacie Shmidl, the dog coordinator and kennel supervisor for the shelter. “Sometimes it takes us a little longer than they like, but if they can just hold off for a week or two it would help.”
With the overcrowding, some of the animals are sitting in cages where they aren’t getting the necessary attention they need to be healthy and happy — something that could be assisted with help from volunteers.
Animals locked away from people and other animals have a tendency to develop behavior problems down the line, according to Shmidl.
“These dogs are sitting in the kennels and they’re bored and that causes behavioral issues after a while,” Shmidl said. “That’s when it gets even more stressful for us because we try to do what we can to keep them satisfied, but as we get more dogs that means less time for each dog.”
To find out how you can donate, volunteer, foster an animal or apply to adopt an animal please visit https://www.hsnba.org//. The Humane Society is also in search of an animal care tech and pet resource specialist, those who are interested can apply online using Indeed.
In addition, the Humane Society will be hosting an adoption event on Saturday, May 14. The event will have food, music, games, a silent auction, and will have pets available for adoption for a $14 fee.
September 13, 2023
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