GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Several West Michigan humane societies and animal shelters say they’re approaching maximum capacity and they’re asking for the community’s help.
Since January, the Kent County Animal Shelter has taken in more than 800 animals. It normally doesn’t reach that many until the middle of summer.
“Usually when it’s colder outside and it’s early in the spring, we don’t see quite the figures that we’re seeing right now. We’re really bracing ourselves to hope that it doesn’t continue to rise,” said Angela Hollinshead, director of the Kent County Animal Shelter.
As of Friday afternoon, the shelter housed just over 100 animals. The vast majority were strays.
“Unfortunately, in a lot of cases, we have animals that are here and the owners are aware that they’re here and they’re just not coming to get them,” Hollinshead said.
As kennels fill up with cats and dogs, the shelter runs out of space and workers are stretched thin.
“So we run out of physical space and then on top of that our staff are really struggling to keep up with animal care and making sure everybody gets enough walks and gets enough enrichment,” Hollinshead said.
The Humane Society of West Michigan in Grand Rapids is dealing with similar challenges.
“We have people from the community and other shelters in southern states and things like that who are reaching out to us wanting to surrender pets or wanting to get help and we can’t help because we’re at capacity,” said Megan Ellinger, director of animal welfare at the Humane Society of West Michigan.
She said it’s the result of declining pet adoptions, a side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Unfortunately, it is something that has continued and just as people are changing jobs or there’s talks about crashing housing markets or recessions or all these different things, that plays into people’s abilities to bring pets into their homes,” Ellinger said.
With kitten season just around the corner, it’s a race against the clock to get animals adopted.
“We’re a little scared, to be honest. It’s overwhelming knowing that we’re going to be having hundreds of kittens coming in right now,” Ellinger said.
The Kent County Animal Shelter and the Humane Society of West Michigan don’t euthanize for lack of space or the length of an animal’s stay. People are encouraged to adopt, make sure your pet can be easily traced back to its owner and hold on to stray animals for 24 hours.
“If we can wait 24 hours and see if we can find those owners, the animals are much better served,” Hollinshead said.
The Humane Society of West Michigan offers services including pet food banks and low-income clinics to help people keep their pets in their homes.
If you’ve lost a pet or found an animal, you’re encouraged to post to social media, upload photos to petcolovelost.org and hang flyers in your neighborhood.