The Austin Animal Center is overflowing with medium and large dogs.
Staff at the shelter said right now there is a desperate need for fosters and adopters. The animal shelter is waiving adoption and re-claim fees for the rest of the week in an attempt to make room for additional dogs coming in, but they are currently out of kennel space and trying to get creative to house the animals they have.
“We need help,” said Jennifer Olahan, communications and media program manager at Austin Animal Center.
More than 400 dogs are staying at the Austin Animal Center, many of them without a kennel to sleep in.
“We've got dogs in our meeting rooms, pop-up kennels, we have dogs in offices, pretty much anywhere that we can put them,” Olahan said.
Shelter staff is reaching out to other rescue partners like Austin Pets Alive and the Austin Humane Society, but it's a problem they can't fix without help from the community.
“We are desperate for fosters, we are desperate for adopters,” said Olahan.
Usually becoming a foster can take up to a week and includes an orientation, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
“Anyone who is interested in fostering, if they've never fostered before, they can come out and we'll process their paperwork on site and they can leave with a dog within an hour,” Olahan said.
The reason for the overflow of dogs at the Animal Center can be hard to pinpoint, however, Olahan said when it rains or storms, it also rains cats and dogs.
“We'll see more animals come in as lost and then that kind of adversely affects adoptions because people don't want to come out when it's raining, so we'll have a higher intake, lower outcomes,” said Olahan.
Olahan said the best way to stop overcrowding at the shelter is to keep lost dogs from staying there to begin with. ID tags and microchips are the easiest option to find a pet's owner, but even that's not foolproof.
“A lot of times, or sometimes, that information isn't current and so we aren't able to get in touch with the family and then they get put up for adoption,” Olahan said.
Medium and large dogs make up the majority of the shelter's population right now, but the Animal Center has seen an increase in puppies lately as well.
Olahan said the shelter is committed to finding a place for all the dogs they house. Still, they can't do it alone.
“Austin is a no-kill community and it takes the entire community to help us stay that way,” said Olahan.
Another issue is the cold weather. Dog's that have been kept in outdoor kennels to make more room for the overflow will have to move indoors now that temperatures have dropped.
The Austin Animal Center is open Monday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.