Blame it on the Texas heat, summertime relocations or more cash-strapped Dallasites: Whatever the root cause, local pet owners are increasingly giving their animals up to shelters. And during the summer months, more animals tend to escape from their homes and are brought to the shelter as strays.
Between the strays and the surrenders, Dallas Animal Services reports this week that they've been taking in more than 100 animals a day. With just a 650 animal capacity, space is quickly running out. The online community is exploding with frustrated Dallas residents, and Dallas Animal Services employees are clearly nearing a breaking point.
In a Facebook post, employees said they were worn out and asked for understanding from the community in dealing with waning resources. On top of the rapidly increasing demand, the shelter is having ongoing trouble with their air conditioning. Noisy fans are only serving to make communication more difficult between pet owners and staffers.
"Everyone, please bear with us," Dallas Animal Services wrote in the post. "People are having to wait in line to surrender pets and everyone is losing patience. The staff is discouraged and exhausted, so please, please be patient with them. They are doing the best they can under the circumstances."
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The shelter is already discounting fees for older animals and waiving fees entirely for animals that have been at the shelter longer than two weeks. This is all to cut down on the euthanizations the shelter performs when animals have been there too long. Current policy dictates that strays could be put to sleep after just 72 hours, and surrendered animals could be euthanized within the day of their surrender.
"Our euthanizations are down, year after year," Jody Jones, a manager at Dallas Animal Services, told CBS 11. "But we're still putting to sleep far too many animals." Dallas Animal Services has a history of abuse allegations. More than three years ago, an investigation uncovered stories of animal starvation and cruelty at the shelter, and euthanasia rates of roughly 80 percent.
Since then, the shelter has largely cleaned up its act. It has cut down on euthanization, and adoption rates have skyrocketed. A facility makeover, overhauled staff, marketing campaigns, and a watchful city eye have all helped to improve a dismal record and reputation. But with increasingly stretched resources, the shelter is enduring a rough stretch, at least until summer finally gives way to fall.
Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly cast blame for recent issues on the shelter's employees.