Bastrop County Animal Services has been at crisis capacity more days than not this year, said Ashley Hermans, director of the organization.
The county animal shelter has 84 kennels and as of December 10 was caring for more than 300 dogs and cats.
Hermans said the shelter receives about 11 animals a day and the facility was not built to house that many dogs and cats.
“Unfortunately, we have them a lot more often than we would like,” Hermans said. “This facility was built decades ago and unfortunately on its current footprint there is no way to expand.”
To ease overcrowding at the shelter and ring in the new year, the shelter is running a special $22 adoption offer for any dog or cat through December 31.
“The adoption special is kind of an honor for 2022 coming up, and it applies to every animal here,” Hermans said. “Whether it’s a puppy, whether it’s a small breed – whatever is housed here at the shelter – we’re trying to get out there and have a home before the end of the year.”
Hermans said that in a normal year, the number of admissions to the shelter would tend to drop as the winter season approaches. This is not the case this year.
“Before, we had a little winter break,” she said.
In a single day last week, December 6, 21 dogs were brought to the shelter. A total of 72 dogs and 16 cats were brought to the shelter last week. Meanwhile, 58 animals have been adopted, 44 have been transferred to rescue partners and 13 have been returned to their owners.
Most animals donated to the shelter are litters of puppies and kittens, which can be kept in their own space.
Hermans said the increase in the number of cats and dogs turned over to the facility is the result of the influx of people moving to Bastrop. The facility was built 20 years ago, Hermans said, “and Bastrop County has changed a lot in that time.”
When people move into the community, they bring their pets with them.
“The arrival of companies like Tesla and the spillover from the Austin metro area is creating a lot of growth here,” Hermans said. “And because we’re more in a rural setting, in general, a lot of the residents have a lot more dogs than you would typically see in a traditional suburban or urban area.”
The shelter, however, will not be able to “adapt” to this problem, Hermans said. Residents can help by adopting dogs or cats and supporting the shelter’s neutering and neutering program.
“Unfortunately, most animals brought into the area are not neutered or neutered, and many of them are not confined to their own properties,” Hermans said. “And when you combine all of those factors, you end up with a lot of additional animals in the county that are free-roaming, being brought in as strays and breeding.”
Another way for pet owners to support the shelter, Hermans pointed out, is to put their contact information on their dog or cat’s tags.
“Some people don’t think their pets will get lost, but just like we put on seat belts when we drive, pets should always wear identification,” she said.
“All of our facilities are just stretched right now,” Hermans continued. “We really need to work on expanding and we really need to work on being proactive. We can’t just get out of this situation, we absolutely want adopters, foster homes and rescues by all means to find these animals forever.
The refuge is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. All animals leaving the shelter, whether adopted or placed, are treated, microchipped and vaccinated. They are also wormed and have received medication for fleas, ticks and heartworms.
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Bastrop County Animal Shelter Reaches Crisis Capacity, Official Says