Dallas-area animal shelters are asking the public for help as capacity is filling up. Many shelters are reporting higher than usual numbers of animals coming into shelters, while adoptions have dropped significantly.
The ASPCA says that as many as 23 million U.S. households adopted a dog or cat during the height of the pandemic, however, recent concerns over inflation may be driving some pet owners to surrender pets to animal shelters.
The City of Dallas’ goal is for 90% of all intakes to be live releases, meaning the animals are adopted, returned to owners, or otherwise released. The first year the City accomplished the goal was 2020 by barely exceeding the threshold. In 2021, adoptions spiked, dramatically improving the live release rates. Those numbers are now trending in the opposite direction in both Dallas and Fort Worth.
“Our current live release rate for this fiscal year is 87%, down from 97% in fiscal year 2021,” said Chris McAllister, acting assistant director of Code Compliance for the City of Fort Worth. “This is a direct result of increased intakes and decreased adoptions in the community, which has impacted our shelters.”
The most recent monthly report from Fort Worth Animal Care & Control shows an even grimmer picture. The overall live release rate for July was only 82.94%. A total of 255 animals were euthanized that month while 724 dogs and cats were adopted. Animal Care & Control reports that the total number of animals brought into county shelters in the month totaled 1,576.
Dallas is seeing similar numbers. The most recent “report card” on the main Dallas Animal Shelter indicates a year-to-date live release rate of only 79.5% for all animals. In Dallas, dogs are much more likely to be adopted than cats, but shelter capacity for dogs has also been stretched extremely thin.
As of Wednesday, the Dallas Animal Shelter was reporting only one available large dog kennel remaining of the 118 kennels that house dogs ready for adoption. A total of 154 dogs are currently housed at the facility. The shelter is reporting similar space constraints in kennels for sick dogs and newly-surrendered dogs that have yet to be evaluated.
Dallas Animal Shelter Director MeLissa Webber told Best Friends Animal Society that owners who are facing financial trouble should contact the shelter to ask for help before surrendering their pet. The shelter has a variety of programs available that can help with things like veterinary care and food costs.
“We do have a really supportive community,” Webber said. “Fostering is the biggest thing people can do because it increases our capacity and lifesaving. Volunteering helps and, of course, adopting a pet.”