Full, understaffed animal shelters and low cost animal adoptions
MUNCIE, Ind. – A newcomer van was pulled back into the Muncie Animal Care and Services reception dock and, as shelter workers opened the doors of the vehicle, its passengers erupted in chorus.
“Salvation!” “Beautiful bird!” “What are you doing!?”
Nearly a dozen cockatoos and a few African parrots, removed from the home of their recently deceased owner, chirped at animal control officers as the birds were gently transported into the facility on Friday evening.
Manager Ethan Browning said the addition of an exotic herd was a suitably chaotic bookend for Refuge Week.
With an overflow of dogs and cats already being held in staff offices, utility closets, laundry rooms, hallways and the reception area, Browning designated a storage room near the entrance to the refuge as a bird sanctuary. temporary.
“We’re just going to have to make it work… it’s literally the only place we have left,” Browning said.
He said MACS has been functioning precariously beyond capacity since last Monday, when staff responded to a case of animal neglect at a house on the south side of Muncie.
While conditions at the home were allegedly “horrible”, he said the decision to seize 14 dogs from the property was still distressing.
“That’s when I knew we had gone beyond a tipping point,” Browning said. “We stayed lucky for a while, hoping a big deal like this wouldn’t push us through.”
He said the dogs – nine adults and five puppies, which were found along with two dead dogs inside the residence – are aggressive and not socialized. As a result, adult dogs are kept separately in the Muncie Animal Care and Services ‘education room’, where visitors typically interact with adoptable dogs.
Browning said every kennel in the shelter occupied (except those that are open to animals that pose an immediate risk to public safety), is a barrier to the adoption process that the shelter cannot afford.
“We’re not moving the dogs as fast as we need to or as we usually do,” Browning said. “We don’t move cats that quickly either… there just aren’t any adoptions.”
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According to MACS data, in June 2020, the shelter’s busiest month last year, there were 267 animals in the facility and 78 adoptions. In contrast, in June 2021, the MACS had 406 animals with only 47 adoptions.
As to why the number of animals has increased dramatically as the number of adoptions has plummeted, Browning said he could only speculate.
“The way I see it, when the shelter is so busy and so full, it’s a symptom of bigger issues facing the community,” Browning said.
Outside of the training room, the only place visitors can safely meet adoptable dogs face-to-face is in the shelter’s outdoor playground. Unfortunately, Browning said the space has been neglected due to a lack of volunteers and staff.
“We’ve been so busy we couldn’t get anyone off the road or animals to even mow there, so it hasn’t been mowed for three weeks… it’s in pretty bad shape,” Browning said. .
Browning said the shrinking staff size has compounded any problems the shelter faces when operating beyond capacity, from shelter maintenance to adoptions and babysitting.
For at least several weeks, the shelter has lacked an assistant manager, two animal control officers, two cat sitters and two dog sitters.
Six of the “core” MACS employees Browning is trying to replace were students from Ball State University and Ivy Tech Community College who returned home at the start of the pandemic.
“We’re having a hard time finding and keeping part-time staff right now,” Browning said. “I’ve probably had 150 people who applied, and then all but 30 never answer my calls or emails.”
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He said claims “skyrocketed” when “Job Search” unemployment requirements were reinstated last month.
“If it hadn’t been for COVID, we might be fine,” Browning said. “What we mainly attract for these positions are students… there is a high turnover rate.
He said with state rescues complete and the busy shelter season expected to continue through October, MACS is in urgent need of community assistance.
“We just take in more animals than we leave each day,” said Browning.
First, the shelter needs its adoption numbers to increase.
In addition to waiving all claim fees, MACS has a special adoption offer: $ 50 for dogs and $ 25 for cats with some free senior animal adoptions.
All MACS adoptable pets are listed on PetFinder.com.
Second, the shelter needs donations of money and supplies. Browning said large crates, leashes, dog toys and dog treats are invaluable under the current circumstances. Additionally, the refuge has a wish list on Amazon.com.
Finally, MACS needs volunteers to welcome the animals and help with the cleaning and maintenance of the facility.
Anyone interested in volunteering or fostering can contact the MACS at 765-747-4851.
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Jordan Kartholl is a photojournalist at The Star Press. Contact him at 317-217-8681, [email protected] or on Instagram at @thestarpress.