Animal shelters across the state are experiencing over crowding issues this season and its only getting worse for area animal rescue agencies.


Denison Animal Welfare Group President Stephanie Phillips said it’s not just Sherman that is over crowded, and nearly every shelter she is in contact with across the state is experiencing the same thing. Phillips went so far as to refer to it as a crisis, especially locally.


DAWG currently has 22 dogs out of 25 kennels and 26 cats out of 35 cat kennels, and Phillips said the shelter had 10 puppies dropped off just last week.


“Every animal shelter I am familiar with is full,” Phillips said. “We’re working really hard to try and save each one of those animals. People continue to relinquish pets faster than we can get them adopted out. We’re over capacity right now so we’re not even able to help Sherman out right now. We’re looking at places to get help. We’re trying to get partners to help Sherman as well as to save our animals too.”


Phillips said DAWG does not euthanize animals for space, a luxury this animal shelter can afford due to the nature of the organization. Once space runs out, municipal shelters often start looking at euthanasia as an emergency measure.


When municipal shelters have reached a 90 percent live-release rate, they can be considered no-kill shelters, Phillips said. But, when capacity becomes an issue, those shelters do have the ability to begin euthanasia again.


Denison Code Compliance Manager Robert Lay said the situation with the city is about the same as other shelters, and facilities are more crowded now than he has seen in his two years working with the animals in Denison. The city contracts with Morton Street Animal Hospital to house animals on its behalf. Once the animal hospital reaches capacity or once an animal has reached beyond it’s mandatory 72-hour hold, it will typically be turned over to DAWG. Lay said Denison is sitting at about an 93-percent live release rate, and if a shelter gets above 90 percent live release, it will advertise itself as a no-kill shelter.


Denison had 1,254 total animals picked up or turned over to the city in fiscal year 2019 which ended Sept. 31. Lay said Denison also tries not to euthanize for space but will if it comes to that.


Phillips said normally shelters see an increase in the spring when pets begin mating.


One tool DAWG has that Sherman is lacking is a transport vehicle to move animals to other shelters. DAWG has loaned Sherman it’s van on occasion.


The biggest thing Phillips said would help is getting pets spayed or neutered. DAWG has a low cost option on the first and third Saturday of the month as well as provides information on its website about other options.


“We’ve been able to keep (Denison) from euthanizing for space for a while,” Phillips said. “But, we need the public to be responsible. We ask they look at their circle of friends first and use the pound as a last resort.”


DAWG keeps its animals one per kennel for safety reasons. But, she reiterated that resources are scarce as are volunteers, and she is looking into is expanding the space up to 40 dog kennels. Phillips goal is to start working on that project after the first of the year.


Over the six years she has been in operation, DAWG has spayed or neutered 6,000 animals with the numbers increasing each year.


“A $50 surgery is a lot cheaper than vet care for 10-15 animals a dog is capable of producing twice a year,” she said. “If everyone did that we wouldn’t have this problem.”


Lay said it takes help from the community to solve the larger problem, and the best way to avoid dropping a pet off at a shelter is to be educated what it takes to support an animal before taking on the responsibility. He said the pet population in Grayson County is naturally increasing along with the human population, and it will require everyone doing their part to get it under control, including sterilizing animals which he joined other shelter leaders in saying, is important.


For more information on DAWG, visit http://www.denisonanimalwelfaregroup.org.