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'Why can’t you take my dog?’ Available space is almost always the culprit.

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For every single shelter and rescue in operation across the US. there is a constant barrage of emails, calls, Facebook and Twitter messages coming in with cries for help; strays that are roaming freely, owners wishing to surrender their pets, and much more. The cycle is never ending and takes no exception for nights, weekends, and holidays. It’s a 24 hour per day, seven day per week onslaught; for many organizations, answering every since call or piece of correspondence would be a full time job in itself. Many times, correspondence is never returned. And if you do get a call back, or an email reply, you may not be at all happy with the response.

“We’re sorry, but we are full,” because there simply is no room at the Inn.

You don’t get that response because that’s what they want to tell you. They would really like to help you, and the animal in question, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the business of rescuing animals. But their hands are tied. This happens more with no kill shelters and rescues than with open door shelters, but wherever the response comes from, it’s almost always the same reason; no space.

No kill organizations are limited the most on the numbers they can take in based on available space. Those limitations can last weeks, months, and sometimes years depending on the adoption turnaround of their animals. If they don’t have an open kennel they are forced to turn away new admissions. This causes a great deal of anguish for rescuers who find themselves overloaded but wanting to do more.

With “open door" shelters, space may become available on a more regular basis. There, animals may have a faster chance for admittance and possible adoption. But many people steer clear of open door shelters because euthanasia is almost inevitable for pets considered less adoptable, especially animals that are old, unsocialized, injured, or ill. Puppies and more popular breeds always have a better chance than most at making it out alive, but even then there is no guarantee. Even with an “open door policy”, taking in whatever comes in the door, these shelters find themselves over populated on a daily basis.

Licensed shelters and rescues do not dictate their own housing limitations. Standards set forth by the Department of Agriculture in individual states are what limit each shelter or rescue to the number of animals they can house. Failure to comply with such state regulated restrictions can mean a loss of license.

Certainly, only so many animals can be kept in a given amount of space, legally or physically. Even if individual state organizations did not regulate these practices, common sense must prevail in order for each organization to be able to maintain operations in a healthy, manageable, and organized manner. Over population, in any given space, can be the cause of death due to spread of illness and sometimes injuries sustained from fighting amongst animals being kept in overcrowded conditions. The news is full of animal hoarding situations where common sense was not used, and who wants more of that?

While foster homes are sometimes a relief for overpopulated organizations, there never seems to be enough.

Help support your local animal welfare organization by spreading the word about animal overpopulation and the importance of spaying and neutering pets. Donate, volunteer, and foster to help relieve some of the strain on your local shelter or rescue.

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