April 15, 2024

Bowlingual Dog

Animal Planet Directory

Humane Society of Harford County struggling with dog overcapacity – Baltimore Sun

The Humane Society of Harford County‘s Fallston animal shelter is over capacity, with about 105 dogs currently being housed in the 19,000 square-foot facility, which normally holds between 65 and 70 dogs, according to Executive Director Bob Citrullo.

The animal shelter was already close to capacity when Harford County Animal Control seized 34 dogs last month, including 17 in the last week of February. Since the beginning of the year, the shelter has taken in 160 dogs.

“We were walking that fine line … and then animal control had a situation where they had seized 17 dogs [from one household],” Citrullo said. “That just put us over the tipping point.”

Staff at the shelter, located at 2208 Connolly Road, are trying different methods to mitigate overcrowding, including erecting a tent to use as an emergency shelter, waiving adoption fees for first responders and senior residents who adopt a senior pet. The society is also looking for people who can foster dogs temporarily in their homes and is asking for donations from the community.

The emergency shelter is a tent with a trailer from the American Kennel Club Pet Disaster Relief and has enough resources to care for 100 dogs.

The humane society is the only local shelter under contract with the county government to house and care for animals surrendered by residents, found as strays or seized by animal control. The no-kill shelter takes all kinds of animals and is only currently having trouble with space for dogs.

Citrullo said animal shelters across the country have been experiencing overcrowding. According to the executive director, most of the problems stem from people returning animals they adopted or purchased during the pandemic.

“Normally we adopt out, we send animals to other rescue groups, transfer animals, but you have to understand everybody all around us [is] in the same boat,” Citrullo said. “A lot of things have slowed down – adoptions, transports – so, animals are staying longer in the shelter.”

The shelter’s alternative placement manager, Danielle Holbrooke, says the influx of dogs means that the animals do not have the proper time to be out of their kennels.

According to Holbrooke, the shelter’s main facility has 55 dog kennels, plus 11 kennels for the shelter’s medical team. The emergency shelter is equipped with 20 dog kennels.

“This definitely has our staff spread pretty thin,” Holbrooke said, “but we’re doing the best we can to give them everything that they need.”

Citrullo said new intakes are microchipped and given full medical examinations and receive vaccinations that are required to come into the shelter.

The new emergency shelter is costing the humane society an additional $18,000 per month to staff and care for the influx of dogs, which is not included in their operating budget of $2.2 million.

As a no-kill shelter, the Humane Society of Harford County will not consider euthanizing dogs in order to make available space, Citrullo said.

“Our hope is that the situation will improve; hopefully adoptions start picking up, and we’re in a better place,” Citrullo said.

The emergency shelter tent will remain open for six months; the humane society plans to construct a 4,000-square-foot permanent space to serve as a training center for “behaviorally challenged” dogs and to have an enclosed play area for new intakes. Citrullo says the project will cost $250,000 and will be paid for by a donation from an anonymous donor.

“We’re going to do whatever we can to save lives,” Citrullo said.

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