HomeNewsOverflowing animal facilities hope to “Clear the Shelter”

Overflowing animal facilities hope to “Clear the Shelter”

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Animal shelters, both county-run and the privately operated, report their kennels are filled beyond capacity with dogs and cats looking for new homes.

Augusta Animal Services said it has been dealing with overcrowding since late March. Deputy Director Crystal Eskola said some have been owner surrenders, but they are being overwhelmed by the number of strays being picked up.

Local rescue group Dog and Cat Networking Agents has been helping by pulling dogs from the Augusta shelter to be transported to Northern rescues and shelters in need of adoptable animals. DNA said it has transported 95 dogs and puppies since March 1.

Adoptable cat Kudzu in Augusta. Courtesy Augusta Animal Services.

Eskola said it has been a tremendous help, but the strays keep arriving.

“The sad part is, even with them getting so many out, they’re just coming in quicker through the door than we’re getting them out. It’s just so taxing when we’re full, you know, it’s just exhausting, mentally and physically. I really feel bad for the staff,” she said. She added there are strays that come in with collars on, clothes, painted nails and freshly groomed that no one comes looking for.

Eskola said one staff favorite looking for a home is Bustamove.

“He is so social and wants to meet and greet everyone, from people to dogs and cats. He is a big boy and seems to love children and be kid friendly but maybe too chunky and spunky for small toddlers,” she said. “We don’t know much about his past as he was found on the street, but neighbors were sad to see him go as he wasn’t a nuisance dog just a Pit mix that nobody really wanted to give a proper home to. Busta has been sadly at the shelter since December, and it would just make his day if someone gave him a chance.”

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To encourage people to adopt a loving pet, the Augusta facility has dropped the adoption fee to $15.

In Aiken County, Friends of the Animal Shelter, the volunteer group that supports shelter operations, and SPCA Albrecht Center are both teeming up again with the BISSELL Pet Foundation.

“Shelters across the country are over capacity, and highly adoptable pets are at risk as we face one of the largest crises in recent years,” said Cathy Bissell, Founder of BISSELL Pet Foundation, in a news release.

At least 275 shelters spread across more than 40 states is part of the “Empty the Shelters” event that runs May 1 through May 14.

At the Aiken County shelter, adoption fees will be reduced and some adoption fees for dogs in need of loving homes will be waived.

Adoptable dog Paco in Aiken County. Courtesy Friends of the Animal Services, Aiken County.

FOTAS volunteer Bob Gordon said the majority of homeless animals at the shelter are stray dogs and cats.

“Many of them are victims of neglect, found by animal code enforcement officers or local citizens and brought to the shelter for care and rehoming. Many of these animals are alarmingly thin, covered in fleas, scared and in urgent need of care and nourishment. Some arrive with broken or shattered bones because they’ve been hit by a vehicle while wandering near busy roads,” he said.

This is the second time the Aiken County shelter has participated in the sponsored event. FOTAS said the December 2021 event was highly successful.

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“We’re so thankful to everyone who adopted pets and gave these homeless animals a second chance at a good life,” said FOTAS President Jennifer Miller. “With the shelter so full right now, we are hoping for similar, or even greater, success during the next two weeks.”

At the SPCA Albrecht Center adoptable pets will be offered with a $25 adoption fee. The center also participated in the December 2021 event and 65 animals found homes.

Adoptable dog at SPCA Albrecht Center. Courtesy SPCA Albrecht Center.

“This adoption event has proven to be lifesaving for shelters animals in Aiken,” said Claire Roberson, SPCA Communications Director, “We are thrilled to participate again this year as a part of BISSELL’s Partner for Pets program and hope to find homes for our shelter companions before the brunt of Puppy & Kitten Season.”

In Columbia County, officials said they are not dealing with overcrowding. However, to encourage people to come adopt a pet they have temporarily dropped the adoption fee to $15.

Adoptable dog Luther in Columbia County. Courtesy Columbia County Animal Services.

If adoption is not an option, there are other ways to help.

“Please ask people to consider volunteering or fostering. Our volunteer options are to walk dogs, socialize with cats/dogs, scheduling fund raisers and other activities,” said Aiken County shelter manager Bobby Arthurs.

Courtesy Augusta Animal Services.

In Augusta, the shelter offers what it is calling “Canine Test Drives.” Anyone considering adoption but still on the fence can take home for one week any dog that has been in the shelter for more than two weeks. The hope is it will convince the individual to keep the dog with no adoption fee.

Augusta Animal Services is at 4164 Mack Lane. It is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Adoptable animals can be viewed at: https://www.augustaga.gov/602/Adoption-Information

Columbia County Animal Services is at 1940 William Few Parkway, next to the county health department. Kennel hours are 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Adoptable animals can be viewed at: https://www.columbiacountyga.gov/community/animals

The Aiken County shelter at 333 Wire Rd. is open for adoption’s 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday; and 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. Adoptable animals can be viewed at:  https://www.fotasaiken.org/adopt/animal-shelter-pets/

SPCA Albrecht Center is at 199 Willow Run Rd. in Aiken. Adoption hours are from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Adoptable animals can be viewed at: https://www.letlovelive.org/adopt/available-pets/

Dana Lynn McIntyre is a general assignment reporter for The Augusta Press. Reach her at [email protected] 

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