Summertime in Texas often means the animal equivalent of a baby boom that fills area animal adoption centers with unwanted puppies, cats and strays, said Whitney Hanson, communicatons director at the Humane Society of North Texas.
Springtime is mating season for dogs and cats, meaning more puppies and kittens are born during the summer than any other time of the year. Pet owners who can’t care for multiple animals give the litters to the animal shelters, sometimes resulting in overcrowding. Sometimes pet owners who leave for vacations leave their animals at the shelters while they’re gone, and sometimes the summer heat means more stray sightings near homes.
To combat that overcrowding, 38 shelters throughout North Texas participated Saturday in the first Empty the Shelter Day.
The shelters offered free adoptions, with a total of more that 5,000 animals available for adoption that day at the shelters, Hanson said.
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Both the Regional Animal Adoption Center at 330 Rufe Snow Drive in Keller, and the Welcome Home Adoption Center at 363 Keller Parkway participated in the event. Both centers are managed by the Humane Society of North Texas.
The Regional Animal Adoption Center adopted out 31 animals and the Welcome Home Adoption Center adopted out 40 animals.
“We had a huge amount of feedback once we announced we were participating,” said Nelda Corbell, manager of both Keller centers. “It’s a great opportunity for us to find more animals homes and make space for the new ones coming in.”
Melissa White of Arlington came out to The Keller Regional Shelter in search of a new kitten after her cat, George, died earlier this year. She adopted a small, gray kitten.
"I thought for a while about getting a new pet, but this seemed like a better opportunity than any other day," White said.
White said she felt happy to take part in an event that would help both the animals and the shelters, and that the program was a great incentive for her to come out.
Each animal was spayed, neutered, microchipped, vaccinated and examined by a veterinarian.
Hanson said overcrowding at the adoption center means not enough space for stray animals, and there is a bigger chance of disease.
“Once overcrowding becomes bad enough that diseases get spread, unfortunately some animals are euthanized,” she said. “That’s something we want to avoid and so we encourage foster volunteers and spread the word about the need for adoptions.”
Both Keller locations are limited capacity and don’t take more animals than they can hold. Because the centers don’t practice euthanasia, animals are kept until they are adopted, Corbell said.
More than 100,000 animals are euthanized in Texas each year.
The Welcome Home Center places between 100 and 120 animals a month in new homes, and the Regional Center between 70 and 80. Last year, Welcome Home adopted out 1,535 animals, Corbell said.
Staff from pet supply store Unleashed by Petco at 1006 Keller Parkway created adoption booklets with discounts on dog training, food and other accessories to promote adoption.
“It’s great to see something like this happening for the animals,” manager Brittany Bayliff said. “It’s a nice opportunity too for those families who can’t afford adoption fees.”