Animal shelter overcrowding reaches crisis mode

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - "Oh, look at that!" Ada Orange exclaimed as she looked into a small cage.

Ada Orange and her fiancee are looking for two dogs to adopt, but they can't seem to decide on which ones.

"I want a Dachshund and my boyfriend, he wants a Pit Bull," said Orange.  "He wants something to guard the house and guard us and stuff like that."

The couple is getting some ideas from their three-year-old son, Tayshun.

"I want puppy," said the sweet young man.

The Humane Society of South Mississippi needs to find more permanent or foster homes for the animals.  Shelter officials point to several reasons for the jump in homeless animals this summer: Irresponsible breeding, a shortage of affordable housing, and the weak economy.

They also say adoption rates have dropped dramatically this summer, while the number of animals showing up has spiked.

"Since the beginning of July, we've been taking in approximately 40 animals a day, and that is much more than the 20 to 25 that we usually take in," said Velasquez.

The shelter currently houses 385 animals.  It's so overcrowded, many pets have to share kennels and cope with tight quarters.

"If we cannot get these animals out in a timely manner, then they may not have the option of leaving here alive," said Velasquez.

So the shelter is offering special adoption rates, as much as half off the normal fees.  And the shelter will stay open an extra two hours week days until July 31st.

"We have a goal of getting 35 animals adopted per day until the end of July," Velasquez said. "We're just trying to get as many animals out of the shelter alive as possible.  On August 1st, if there is a chance that the goal is not met, then we show up to work again and we keep trying.  The ones that lose though, are those animals who did nothing but be born."

And that's what Ada Orange is trying to do, open her heart and her home to a pet in need.

"They're like children to me, so I love them.  He loves them too," Orange said pointing to little Tayshun.

"I love puppies," he said with a big smile on his face.

The special adoption rates only apply to cats, kittens, and dogs, but not puppies.  And the shelter hours have been temporarily extended until 7:00 PM from Monday through Friday.

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