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The animal shelter is full again. Here’s how you can save some lives

Volunteering at Fort Worth’s Animal Adoption Centers

Volunteer time and talents are a huge asset to the Fort Worth Animal Shelter where the extra help assists in showing animals to prospective owners.
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Volunteer time and talents are a huge asset to the Fort Worth Animal Shelter where the extra help assists in showing animals to prospective owners.

Tuesday, at Fort Worth’s animal shelter, the numbers weren’t adding up, sadly.

Despite efforts to encourage more pet adoptions, the shelter was again at capacity. Dr. Tim Morton, the city veterinarian overseeing operations, said the animal welfare staff is having to go to its “red list.” That’s the list of dogs and cats that will be euthanized beginning Tuesday because there isn’t enough room for all of them. These are the animals least likely to be adopted.

Morton says the public responded generously to a shout-out for more adoptions earlier this month as the shelter filled to capacity with an increased number of abandoned pets and strays picked up by animal control officers.

The city reduced its adoption fee to $10 to increase the number of animals going to homes. Morton says the new pricing reported by the Star-Telegram on June 1 worked for a while. Adoptions were triple the first week in May. Now they’ve dropped back some and the shelter has hit capacity again.

So, pet lovers, it’s time to consider doing more. If you can adopt, great. A permanent home is always the best solution. But if you can’t make a long-term commitment, there are still ways to help keep these animals off the red list so they can find their forever families.

Be a foster 'parent'

Dogs and cats can be saved by those who are able to provide foster homes.

The shelter has puppies too young to be adopted, so foster “parents” often take care of them them until they’re older. (The danger, of course, is that you won’t be able to resist their cuteness and companionship, and you’ll become so attached you’ll keep them.)

Foster families also provide comfortable, loving homes for older dogs who may need the equivalent of hospice care.

Foster providers also help socialize dogs or provide a home for animals who are waiting to be transported to other cities where — believe it or not — there are not enough pets for all the people who want them.

Morton says the city has few demands for the type of house or yard needed to foster. A staff person will drop by at some time, though, just to see how everything is going.

Right now animal care has about 100 foster families, and Morton says having several hundred more, “would have a tremendous effect” on limiting euthanasia.

Add your name to the foster list by filling out an online application at the city’s Cowtown Crashpads webpage, http://fortworthtexas.gov/crashpads/ or by calling 817-392-7092.

If you have two hours a week, volunteer.

If fostering isn’t in the picture, consider volunteering at one of the city's animal care facilities. They need extra hands at the main animal shelter, at 4900 Martin St., on the southeast side of Fort Worth. The two PetSmart Charities Adoption Centers in the southwest and far north areas also need volunteers.

Volunteering is more than cleaning pens, by the way. You could be an “animal ambassador,” someone who will escort the animals out of their pens and play with or socialize them. You’d show them off to prospective pet owners.

“If people come in looking for a dog or cat and they just see rows of kennels with animals inside they may not be able to see the pet that would make their family complete,” says Morton.

Volunteers can spend as little as two hours a week to pitch in. There’s an online application form at http://fortworthtexas.gov/animals/volunteer. Your call to animal care staff can be forwarded when you phone 817-392-1234.

Choose a mutt

And here’s something else to think about. If you’re inclined to get a pure-bred pet from a breeder, rethink that decision. Unless you plan to raise pedigree animals or show your pet in competitions, look for your furry companion at the shelter and its adoption centers.

The city claims to have increased the pet adoption rate from 30 percent in 2010 to 90 percent today. That’s tremendous improvement. Money for another shelter was approved in the recent bond package and it will be open within several years.

But the goal shouldn’t be to fill up the available space. As a pet-friendly city our goal should be to eliminate the “red list,” by doing whatever we can to find homes for all of the adoptable dogs and cats.

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