By Jessica Arsenault Rivenburg
“So many people have to abandon their pets due to house moves, accidental litters, they are allergic, undertrained or overly hyperactive. The list is lengthened increasingly. We just want you to know that we cannot follow your irresponsibility,” reads a recent post on the Herkimer County Humane Society Facebook page. “Please bear with us as we care for 100 animals, answer phone calls, speak to the public and clean up. And please bear with us. We are trying.”
The Humane Society, like many animal rescue agencies in the area, finds itself at capacity, with more people calling every day to return animals.
“We are full of dogs and overflowing with cats,” said HCHS board member and volunteer Laura Moore. “And we just started on page 11 in a full-size legal pad of people seeking to hand over their animals to us. We are desperate for adopters – good adopters. We need to have a turnover to be able to accept new animals so that these animals do not end up being released, as sometimes happens.
In addition to the cats allowed to roam the shelter’s “cat room,” 29 cages fill every available space, containing even more cats, Moore said.
“These 29 cages have to be cleaned every day,” she commented. “That takes time.”
There are currently 35 dogs up for adoption. Six of them are puppies.
“That’s when we know we’re in trouble,” Moore said. “When you can’t even adopt puppies.”
As to why the shelter is experiencing record numbers of unwanted animals, Moore suggested there were several reasons.
“People don’t spay and spay and then continue to have unwanted litters,” she said. “Often people are not engaged. They are quick to surrender. Animals are a lot of work. Sometimes they need training and problem solving. It is a commitment.
“People are looking for the perfect pet, and it’s hard to get the perfect shelter animal because they’ve been through certain things,” Moore continued. “We really need people to step up.”
Because of the commitment involved, shelter staff work hard to screen both animals and potential adopters.
“We have such a variety of animals available. We work really hard to match people with the right dog for them,” she said.
But the news is not all bad. The Humane Society recently took in a stray kitten who had apparently been hit by a car and suffered serious injuries that resulted in a tail amputation. The shelter launched an appeal on Facebook and its supporters responded by making a generous donation towards the kitten’s veterinary costs.
“It’s such a feeling knowing we have support,” Moore said.
Break 4 All Paws, based in Little Falls, is also experiencing record numbers of homeless pets. Although mostly foster-based, Pause 4 All Paws manager Johanna Stock said she herself has taken in “a plethora” of cats in need of homes for them. still.
“It’s kitten season and there are a lot of feral cats in the area. Everybody’s full,” Stock said, commenting that she had just received a call from a woman in Oneida County hoping to place even more chats with Stock. “But I’m already full. More than full,” she said.
“I think the whole world is a little crazy right now, and it’s spilling over into our pets,” Stock explained. “I think part of the problem is that the cost of everything has gone up, therefore the cost of owning a pet has gone up.”
Human society and Pause 4 All Paws are also feeling these rising costs.
“Our monthly vet bill is up about $3,000 from where it was six months ago,” Moore said.
The area has also seen an increase in cases of animal abuse and neglect, resulting in more cats, dogs and sometimes livestock needing new homes, Stock said.
“I don’t know if there’s actually more abuse or if it’s about people becoming more informed and aware and thus bringing it to the attention of the authorities,” she said. .
For those interested in helping local animal rescues, Pause 4 All Paws and the Herkimer County Humane Society always have a need for non-clumping cat litter and food. Human society demands a lot of canned dog food in particular. Moore explained that staff wrap food in hollow bone toys and freeze them to then give to dogs for the long, lonely nights.
Money is always welcome and used wisely. To donate to the Humane Society, visit their website at www.herkhumane.org. To donate to Pause 4 All Paws, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pause4allpaws or send a check or money order to PO Box 846, Little Falls, NY 13365.