AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin Animal Center says they are having to make the tough decision to turn away people who bring in lost, healthy animals into their facility due to their growing capacity issues.
Mary Brown with the Austin Animal Center describes the City of Austin's animal shelter as a rollercoaster regarding the amount of animals they care for versus the amount of space they have.
"Just having the stress of thinking we're right back where we started, where do we go from here? It can feel hopeless at times," said Brown.
Currently, the Austin Animal Center is having to restrict animal intakes to emergencies only. This is because they are overcapacity for all animals and don't have the room for anymore until they can get enough adoptions to get those numbers back down.
"We're housing medium to large dogs in crates in our conference room. There's dogs that are housed in our hallways that are in crates as well, and then we're actually starting to get into negative space with our small dogs and even cats at this point," said Brown.
Because of that, the animal shelter is having to turn away the public when they bring in lost pets.
"When people are picking up animals, they think they're helping. They bring it here where [the animals] have a much less chance of going back to their owners and then, because we're in the space challenge, and we're not having as many adopters coming in, this animal starts staying here for a longer amount of time at the shelter, and it's extremely stressful for an animal to be here at the shelter," said Brown.
So while the animal center remains in emergency intakes only, they are calling on the public to try to do their part to help these animals. Brown says many lost animals are only blocks away from their home, so before taking it to the shelter, check to see if it has a tag with owner contact information or see if it is microchipped. You can also post the lost pet to social media or even go door to door.
"Being able to take all these steps first really helps us out because the majority of the time, animals are usually reunited within a few hours, up to a few days," she said.
As of right now, Brown says bringing a lost, healthy pet to the Austin Animal Center should be your last resort due to current capacity issues. However, the shelter will provide the public with supplies to temporarily house the lost pet until it is reunited or rehomed.
"We usually try to set public members up with as much supplies as possible if they're willing to keep a pet in their home," she said.
The Austin Animal Center will host an adoption called "Black Furiday" on Nov. 25 from 11 a.m - 7 p.m. at their facility.