FORT WORTH, Texas - It's an ongoing challenge to find permanent homes for dogs and cats that wind up in animal shelters.
The dilemma becomes even more difficult when an animal is injured or becomes ill.
The founder of an animal rescue group in Tarrant County is taking on the task of not only finding animals new homes, but she's also providing them with the medical treatments they need to survive.
Fort Worth's animal shelter is currently filled with animals, who are most healthy, but also some who have serious injuries. They rely on rescue groups, who rely on donations.
Two-year-old pit, Astro, hadn't seen Melissa Carpenter, the woman who rescued him from the Fort Worth animal shelter, for several days.
But when she drove up Friday, he appeared to recognize her special van.
Astro had a bad ear injury and other severe wounds.
"He had been attacked by two dogs. A citizen saw him get attacked by two dogs and they called animal control. Originally, he just had some bite wounds that weren't extreme, but they became infected," Carpenter explained.
Cases like Astro's have placed the spotlight on a growing need when it comes to injured dogs and cats at the city's animal shelter, where they can only handle minor medical needs.
"We can't do orthopedic surgery here, and some of the dogs that have broken limbs really need orthopedic surgery, and that's why they need to go out to a rescue organization to do that," Tony Hiller said.
Hiller says the shelter is overall well-funded, and by November 2020, a planned new shelter for north Fort Worth will help alleviate some of the burden.
"That'll greatly help because it’s going to allow us to separate the animals,” Hiller said. “We're still going to have a medical ward here, and a lot of our medical cases we'll take care of, but we'll have a second area for those types of animals in north Fort Worth.”
In the meantime, rescue groups like Carpenter’s are heavily relied upon to get help for injured animals on a case-by-case basis. The groups often use social media to round up donated medical treatment and foster homes during their recovery.
"Sometimes we've got some that have issues and they stay a little longer, but it can be anywhere from a couple of weeks, to we have some that have been in our care for almost a year," Carpenter said.
Fort Worth's new animal shelter, set to open late next year, will have come equipped with an X-ray machine to screen for animal's broken bones. They say that, in itself, is a major step forward.