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With So Many People Dropping Off Pets, The Shelter Can’t Keep Up

The Harris County Animal Shelter in Houston, Texas, had a two-and-a-half-hour wait on Tuesday to surrender a pet.

Dogs were confined to leashes or put in carrying bags and cages as people sat in plastic chairs. Dogs panted in the blazing July heat as the line stretched out the door and through the parking lot.

“Today, there is a two-and-a-half-hour wait to surrender an animal at the Harris County Animal Shelter. On Facebook, the shelter remarked, “That is how many animals we are receiving!” “If folks are unable or unable to wait, they are tying them to a tree and placing them in a box in our parking lot.”


The shelter now has roughly 530 animals in its care, the most of which are dogs, but its maximum capacity is intended to be around 200.

“Since the beginning of the summer, we’ve been hovering around 500 animals at any given time,” Kerry McKeel, the shelter’s spokesman, told The Dodo. “The Harris County Animal Shelter is experiencing a capacity crisis.”


Despite the surge of stray dogs and surrenders, the shelter is committed to maintaining its 90 percent lifesaving rate, even if it means cramming five to six animals into each kennel.

According to McKeel, as a municipal shelter, the institution is required to accept every animal that walks through its doors, regardless of temperament, breed, or health condition. It is not uncommon for the shelter to receive hundreds of animals per week during the summer.

Summer is generally our busiest intake season, partly due of Texas’ year-round mating season, according to McKeel. “We get a lot of puppies and kittens who are unwanted.”


Every day, shelter employees witness heartbreaking goodbyes as animals are dragged into the shelter against their will, clearly confused and distressed.

In a Facebook post, Urgent Shelter Pets Houston stated, “This dad drug SIX dogs into the shelter with his 10-year-old kid, surrendering them because they were’moving.” “All of this could have been avoided if their dog had been spayed or neutered right away.”

Here’s how the upsetting incident plays out:

Employees at the shelter were given a temporary reprieve on Wednesday when the shelter was closed for owner surrenders, but this will not last long.

“Because we were closed for intake today and will be going into a holiday week next week, we anticipate another high-intake day tomorrow,” McKeel said.

The shelter is seeking for aid from the community by considering adopting or fostering a dog or cat in need. Simply hosting a homeless animal for two to three weeks can help save lives and free up kennel space.

Finally, McKeel advises pet owners to keep their pets on a leash or at home in order to prevent them from wandering the streets. “Strays make up more than half of the animals at the shelter,” McKeel said. “Less than 10% have identification (tags or microchips), making it impossible for the shelter to reunite lost pets with their owners.”