Animal shelters see increase in puppy and kitten numbers as foster families step up


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San Antonio animal shelters and rescue organizations see a bumper crop of kittens and puppies this summer, and the city’s network of foster care and pet adoption has felt the pressure this month -this.

Last week, San Antonio Pets Alive (SAPA), a group that works closely with San Antonio Animal Care Services, made a particularly urgent appeal via social media and emails pleading with residents for them. helping with the influx of puppies, some of which were at risk of being euthanized.

“We were extremely pleased with the response we received last week,” said Alexis Moore, SAPA Marketing Director. “The community has really grown stronger and we have received hundreds of applicants for foster families and adopters. These puppies really touched people’s hearts.

With all the new applicants, SAPA was able to adopt 53 dogs and cats last week and now has 713 foster home pets.

While the risk of puppy euthanasia may have caught the attention of animal lovers in San Antonio last week, faced with the possibility that animals are euthanized is only a daily reality for SAPA staff.

“We’re the last chance for a lot of these animals entering animal care departments,” Moore said.

Kaitlynn Diezel, placement transport coordinator at SAPA, said the organization’s goal is to prevent euthanasia of animals in the shelter due to lack of space, foster families or adopters . Diezel said that SAPA receives an email from ACS every morning with the list of dogs at risk of being euthanized that day, and with typically only a few hours to work, SAPA staff immediately begin to search for homes or an adopter for each pet.

Jessica Travis, head of live releases at ACS, said she is working hard to keep the live release rate of pets brought into the shelter at 90%. This means that only about 10% of animals are slaughtered and, only then, as a last resort.

Moore said SAPA is helping reduce the rate of euthanasia by taking in sick dogs and cats that almost no other organization can or would be willing to help. The SAPA Medical Clinic accepts and treats puppies with parvovirus, distemper and heartworms, conditions normally considered a death sentence for puppies. Moore said the clinic has a fairly good success rate in helping the puppies recover and be adopted.

However, these are not always sick or injured animals at risk of euthanasia. Travis said every decision is made on a case-by-case basis, and as new animals always arrive, ACS needs to have kennel space and tough decisions need to be made.

“We are an open-admission shelter, one of the largest in the country,” said Lisa Norwood, spokesperson for ACS. “We can’t just say, ‘No, we can’t take any more animals. We can’t do that.

Finding space for the constant stream of animals is always difficult, but during the busy summer season, finding a location for each animal is even more difficult, Travis said.

“It’s just that time of year for us,” Travis said. “This month alone, we welcomed just over a thousand [animals], and we are in the middle of the month.

Because spring starts early in South Texas and there are so many hot summer months, Norwood said the puppy and kitten season is always very long for San Antonio.

“This extends the breeding season for most animals to almost all year round,” Norwood said. “For San Antonio, it really doesn’t stop.”

The greatest need during this season is for foster families, especially for kittens, and especially for those who still need to be bottle-fed around the clock.

Norwood said most of the time ACS staff have to take over, which ends up welcoming many kittens, even if that means keeping them in their own offices during the day.

“I have three kittens in my office right now watching me as we talk,” Norwood said in a telephone interview from his office.

Adoptions are, of course, the permanent fix that all animal rescue organizations are still looking for, and Norwood said during the pandemic there has been a significant increase in adoptions which has helped alleviate some of the overcrowding. in shelters over the past summer.

This year, the ACS hasn’t seen the same increase in adoptions as last year, Norwood said, but the good news is that, unlike reports from other cities in Texas, animal shelters in San Antonio do not see the return of pandemic animals. In fact, Travis said, the number of owner buyouts is very low at ACS.

Travis said some of the consumption at shelters has come from pets that were accidentally there, and that’s something she would like to see changed.

“People have to keep their pets tied,” Travis said. “Pets don’t make good decisions on their own. “

About 30% of all pets that go through ACS turn out to be microchipped, Travis said.

“The perception that there are all of these stray animals in the community is not correct,” Travis said. “The microchip really made us understand this point. “

But in this busy season, the best way for the community to help ease the burden on shelters is to volunteer to host, Travis said.

ACS relies on help from SAPA and many other local animal rescue organizations to find homes and foster homes for the incredible number of pets that are brought in each year.

“Host families are the heart of our organization and save hundreds of lives every week,” said Moore. “Typically, we save over 200 lives, dogs and cats, every week. “

Without foster families, ACS would never be able to accommodate all of the kittens that are brought to the shelter each year, Norwood said.

“Our host families are helping to create a shelter without walls,” said Norwood. “There are only a limited number of kennels that ACS owns or San Antonio Pets Alive owns, but who knows how many people in our community could help us? Even if it was just a litter, a dog, a kitten.


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