Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Animal Shelters Full of Cats, Dogs; Overflow Housed at Old City Facility; Free Weekend Adoptions

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Animal Shelters Full of Cats, Dogs; Overflow Housed at Old City Facility; Free Weekend Adoptions

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey

The Jacksonville Humane Society and the city-run Animal Care and Protective Services shelters are so full of dogs and cats that they are housing some animals at the old city shelter, which closed in 2009.

The need for more space stemmed from multiple factors, including construction of new facilities at the society's Beach Boulevard campus; the typical increased intake in the spring, particularly of kittens; and the typical decreased adoptions and fosters during summer family vacation time, shelter administrators said.

Not to blame, they said, is the city's hard-won no-kill status, which means at least 90 percent of animals leave the city shelter alive.

"Shelters would be full whether or not we were a no-kill city," said Amy Pierce, development director at the Humane Society, which helps maintain the no-kill policy by taking in animals from the city shelter. "In the past, however, animals would be euthanized to make space. We are committed to ensuring that healthy, adoptable animals find homes rather than be killed due to time or space constraints."

Pet adoptions will be free Saturday and Sunday at the society and the city shelter.

The number of animals being taken in at the two facilities this year is comparable to last year. As of the end of April 2016, the citywide year-to-date intake was 4,602, compared to 4,172 animals citywide in April 2015, shelter administrators said.

"This is the time of year when we typically see our shelters fill up," Pierce said. "We take in a disproportionately larger number of animals in the spring months in a very concentrated time frame which leads to overcrowding. This doesn't necessarily mean that at the end of the year overall intake will be up. In fact, we expect it will be down overall. It is more about the time frame in which we intake animals, rather than the overall number."

Denise Deisler, the society's executive director, "always likes to say that if intake was evenly split over each of the 12 months, shelters would never be full," Pierce said. "Unfortunately that isn't how it works, so especially in the spring during kitten season we see a higher volume of animals in a more concentrated time frame."

About 800 underage kittens - under 2 pounds - from the city shelter are in foster care, according to placement supervisor Daniel Clavel. Foster families bottle-feed them or give them wet kitten food until they are big enough - at least 2 pounds - for spay/neuter surgery and being adopted, he said. During that time, they have to have checkups every two weeks.

Jen Walter, manager of the city shelter, said the public is adopting just as much as they ever did. Comparing calendar year-to-date numbers for 2015 to 2016, there has only been a 50-animal decrease in the number of adoptions at the city shelter, she said.

"This number can be made up very quickly with one adoption event," she said.

Use of the old city shelter is for specific animals, she said. …

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