At the Harris County Animal Shelter in Houston, Texas, the wait to surrender a pet was two and a half hours long last week. There were hundreds of people in line, sitting in plastic chairs with their dogs on leashes or in cases and crates. The line started inside the shelter and stretched outside into the hot parking lot with many dogs panting from the summer heat. The shelter staff posted about the scene on Facebook, saying the wait to surrender an animal at the shelter was two and a half hours long because of the large number of animals they were receiving. Many people, they said, did not want to wait in the line so they tied their dogs to the trees in the parking lot or just dumped them in a box in the parking lot and left.
The Harris County Animal Shelter has a maximum capacity of 200 animals. But since the beginning of summer, they have had approximately 530 animals on average in their care. The shelter says they are in crisis mode, trying to care for the huge influx of animals being surrendered since the beginning of summer. Many of those surrendering animals say they don’t like the inconvenience of animal ownership. The most common reasons include they cannot afford the animal or have recently moved and cannot take a pet with them. Many people say they found the animal or just don’t want it any longer.
Despite being overwhelmed, the staff is committed to helping the animals in their care—though many are housed 5 or 6 in one kennel. It is their duty, they say, to help these animals so they have the best chance of survival. Summer is the most common time for people to abandon their animals, as is the Fourth of July holiday weekend. The shelter is encouraging residents to consider adopting or fostering animals to help clear space at the shelter and save the lives of animals there.