The first sight at the Dallas Animal Services shelter is a group of kittens tumbling on each other as they play in a plate glass cage. Beyond that, and closest to the entrance, are the young, healthy, friendly, especially cute and wide-eyed cats and dogs. Parents with young kids peruse the rows of cages. Some animals reach through the bars of their cage to playfully bat at passerby, while others make their best please-love-me eyes.
But while families casually walk past the rows of animals, Dallas Animal Services workers quietly cross their fingers that the pets will each be adopted as quickly as possible -- especially the older, less cute ones. Because as Unfair Park recently detailed, DAS is currently stressed with near unbearable numbers of animal surrenders and strays.
With a facility fit to accommodate 650 animals, Jody Jones, manager at DAS, says the shelter is seeing up to 150 animals brought to the shelter every day. "It's a combination of breeding cycles for animals -- they typically give birth around May -- and then at around eight weeks, all of a sudden they're moving now," she says. "The other thing is, you have people are home, they're on vacation, they're moving. There's all these things going on in their lives in the summer."
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Jones says that between pet owners' decisions and the biological calendar, the shelter is particularly inundated with animals in July and August every year.
Jones has been working at the shelter since July 2011, and was a part of the major renovation to shelter facilities that year. But despite a decreased euthanization rate, Jones says there are still too many healthy animals being put down to help accommodate the surge in animals.
Past the newer models are the less sought-after animals: older dogs and cats, sick ones, skittish ones. Jones says that these are often the first to be put down, and so are in most need of adoption. In a push for adoptions, the shelter is veritably giving the animals away. DAS animals are on sale for $30 on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays during August, and some that have been there long enough are completely free. In addition to adoption, the shelter is continually campaigning animals to be spayed and neutered, in order to cut down on future strays.
"Finding that balance of service and resources is always a challenge at this time of year," says Jones. "Unfortunately, it's every year and there's really nothing you can do about it, short of encouraging spay and neuter, and adoption."