California animal shelters are bursting at the seems - and they need your help

August 8, 2018

SACRAMENTO, Calif., August 8, 2018 – Wildfires, animal hoarding cases, and a seasonal increase in stray kittens is placing California’s already-overburdened shelters in crisis mode. To ensure that the shelters can find homes for all the adoptable animals in their care, they are asking for help from the public.


“Summer is always a busy time for animal shelters, particularly because it’s the height of kitten season” explained Erica Hughes, Executive Director of the California Animal Welfare Association, an organization that advocates for California’s animal shelters. “However, California’s recent fires, including Northern California’s Mendocino Complex and Carr fires, are pushing shelters past their limits. And, if the fires continue to spread, the situation will become even more dire. The shelters simply don’t have the space to safely house all the animals coming through their doors. Many shelters are running adoption specials and posting urgent pleas on social media. But, they need more help from the public than they are getting.”


Another reason for shelter overcrowding has been a surge in the number of hoarding cases. The LA City shelter recently recued 300 animals in three separate hoarding cases, pushing all six of its shelters to maximum capacity. “We are used to hoarding cases. However, they are usually more spread out,” said Brenda Barnette, General Manager of LA Animal Services. “We always encourage people to adopt and foster shelter animals as well as donate supplies. But, during times like this, we need even more help.” Ms. Barnette also emphasizes the importance of spaying and neutering. “We strongly urge people to spay and neuter their pets. In LA City, we have free and discount spay and neuter vouchers for all city residents for dogs, cats, and rabbits. For people outside of LA, check with your local animal shelters to see if they have similar programs.”


“Our shelters are drowning” said Beth Ward, Director of Contra Costa Animal Services. “The increase in intake is largely attributed to the influx of kittens coming into our shelter during kitten season and stray dogs that escape during fireworks, summer parties and while families are on vacation. However, in Contra Costa County the fundamental challenge is a lack of resources to support low cost or free spay/neuter services for pets and the lack of resources to provide opportunities for public education around responsible pet ownership.”


Ms. Ward also emphasized the importance of viewing shelter overpopulation as a community problem. “We have families that want to do the right thing. They love their pets and want to properly care for them. Unfortunately, resources are often not available or easily accessible; so they give up their pets, let them loose, don’t vaccinate them, and don’t spay/neuter them.”


“The crisis we are currently facing puts an emphasis on finding homes through rescue and reduced or waived fee adoptions,” explained Ms. Ward. “However, that’s not enough. We need our communities to help by always considering adoption as the first and best option and reaching out to their local shelters as a resource for responsible pet parenting.”


“Summer can always be a particularly challenging time for an open-admission shelter,” explained Phillip Zimmerman, City of Stockton Animal Shelter Manager. “With young children o