The Denison Animal Welfare Group is currently working to raise more than $9,000 throughout the month of June to transport animals that its shelter does not have room for. The move comes as area pounds and animal shelters are experiencing increasing intake of animals and lower adoption rates, DAWG President Stephanie Phillips said Thursday.
Representatives of the organization said they have raised more than $2,500 toward a $4,500 matching grant to pay for transportation expenses to shelters that are not having capacity issues.
“We are generally able to keep up, but we are always close to full,” Phillips said in a phone interview. “However, this year has been different.”
Phillips said DAWG, which has taken in animals eligible for euthanasia and found them new homes since 2014, regularly adopts out about 10 animals a week, with a capacity to house about 25 dogs in 20 kennels. Despite the initial adoptions, Phillips said between two to four of the animals will be returned to the shelter within a week.
While normally DAWG would be able to handle the inflow of lost or stray animals, Phillips said multiple issues have caused the organization reach capacity. With the warmer months and peak breeding season, Phillips said area shelters have seen an uptick in intake from stray and unwanted animals.
“People are ending up with litters of puppies and kittens and are finding that they are unable to take care of them and are ultimately surrendering them,” she said.
As an example, Phillips said the Denison’s animal shelter, located in the Morton Street Animal Hospital, took in 106 animals in May. DAWG focuses its activities on the city of Denison, and only takes in animals from the city’s shelter or from Denison.
Attempts to reach out to the Morton Street Animal Hospital and Grayson County Animal Control were unsuccessful Thursday. An individual who identified himself as Ben with the Sherman Animal Shelter said he was unable to comment for the story, but acknowledged that the issue was “everywhere” and the shelter has seen “a massive intake of animals.”
This influx of animals comes as the organization has seen a drop in adoptions in recent weeks. Phillips said DAWG was only able to adopt out four animals over the past weekend. In 2016, Phillips said the organization saw a similar influx of animals, however, the adoption rates remained high enough that it was not an issue.
“It isn’t unusual for them (animals) to come back, but when you adopt out four, have two return, and then have another 10 come in, it is impossible for us to keep up,” she said.
Phillips said she is uncertain why adoptions have dropped suddenly at the start of summer, but speculated that it may be due to market saturation or the end of the school year.
To alleviate the stress, Phillips said the shelter has begun transporting animals to other shelters across the country that are not having the same capacity issues. These include shelters in Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota that do not have the yearlong breeding season experienced in Texas due to the warmer climate.
On Friday, five animals were transported to Stilwell, Oklahoma where they will then be transported by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to their new homes in Iowa. Each transportation costs about $150, Phillips said.
Previously, DAWG officials announced plans to raise funds toward the construction of a new, larger shelter. Since 2015, the organization has operated out of the former Southside Fire Station, which has the capacity to house 20 kennels. With the new shelter, Phillips said the organization will be able to house 60 kennels which will give the organization the capacity it needs.