Animal shelter population at dangerous level, officials say

Both Necaise and Janik also point to a lack of spay and neuter ordinances in our communities.
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 7:07 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Abandoned and stray pets are overpopulating shelters in South Mississippi. Monday, the Humane Society of South Mississippi began turning away new animals.

It is an issue that has come to light before, but the threat of euthanizing animals has never been greater.

“We’re here to keep pets reunited with families, not to be a dumping ground for animals,” said Bianca Janik, HSSM’s operations director. “It’s a shame because at the end of the day, these animals are the ones that suffer.”

The Gulfport shelter’s capacity is 300. Monday, more than 420 cats and dogs are crammed into every corner of the building. Many of the animals are not fixed.

“Here in South Mississippi, there is no cool-down phase. Breeding season is all season. Spaying and neutering your animals is crucial to keeping the homeless pet population down in our community. If we don’t spay and neuter, then euthanasia is imminent,” Janik said.

Last week, animal control officers from Biloxi, Gulfport and Harrison County dropped off 125 animals. As of Monday, only eight have been reunited with their families.

“We have got to get control of the population, as I have preached for the last 23 years now,” said Deputy Brad Necaise, Harrison County Sheriff’s Office animal control officer. “We’ll never have enough money, we’ll never have enough space, and we’ll never have enough people that want animals. So we have to do something to control the population of animals.”

Necaise told WLOX News how crucial it is for pet owners to spay and neuter. He also points to benefits beyond controlling the population.

“If you fix them, it changes their demeanor, it changes their health, and it makes for a better pet,” he said.

The Humane Society agrees; fixed animals would seriously curb the stray population in the community.

“Your top-notch priority should be spaying and neutering, especially when your community makes it very affordable and accessible,” said Janik. “We do everything we can. WE post on social media, we reach out to our partners, we lower adoption fees, but spaying and neutering is the key.”

Both point to the lack of laws and ordinances requiring spay and neuter for pets, which has helped other areas lower the stray population.

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