“We’re drowning:” Jackson Animal Care Center overwhelmed by record number of admissions, lack of supplies
The Jackson Animal Care Center faces overwhelming hurdles as record numbers of animals are brought to the center, as peak birthing season is just beginning and supplies and funding are low.
“At this point we are drowning,” said Whitney Owen, director of the Jackson Animal Care Center. “I have eaten too much. Period. I have nowhere to put anything.
After posting a desperate call for community participation on Facebook, Owen explained that the numbers are just getting out of hand.
“During the first three years that this place was run by the city, we took in around 600 animals a year,” she said. “We managed to increase our consumption by around 68% last year – during a pandemic, which we were quite proud of – so we managed to accommodate 900 animals last year.
“This year, we crossed the 600 mark in mid-May. We therefore plan to welcome nearly 1,400 animals this year.
The influx is evident even to the untrained eye. Upon entering the refuge, visitors are greeted by a veritable menagerie of cute animals waiting to be adopted. Kittens claw pant legs when in kennels perched in odd corners, and dogs bawl in a back room with little to no extra room for new residents.
Owen, who had just returned from rescuing a bitch and her eleven newborn puppies from under a house, brushed the dirt off her clothes and made room – between boxes of supplies and displaced industrial-size fans by animal crates – to sit and talk.
“This (number) is nothing,” she said. “It’s a very small fraction – it’s about a third of the animals that need to go somewhere in Jackson.”
Currently there are over 50 dogs in the waiting area, with over 90 cats in the building, 30 in foster care and 40 on the waiting list.
“This time of year is tough,” Owen said, despite the kittens’ constant chatter.
The center functions as a “no-kill” refuge, which means the animals are never euthanized in order to save space. Although some euthanasia does occur, it is only for unavoidable reasons, such as medical or assault issues, and must remain below 11% for the shelter to continue to be a “no-kill” refuge.
“It’s necessary for aggression issues, incurable illnesses, things like that,” Owen explained. “We don’t euthanize for space. We never did.
But these moral obligations come with obstacles. Because the shelter is not deadly and is funded by the city, Owen wants to make sure they give all of Jackson’s animals their best chance, while also satisfying the desires of the townspeople.
“There’s a lot of pressure from the sense of obligation, you know,” she said. “We are funded by taxpayers. We should be providing taxpayers with the service they want. Which would mean that all the animals picked up in town should come here.
These standards would be fine under normal circumstances, but this year the admission rate is just too high.
While the reason for the spike cannot be attributed to just one factor, Owen says one of the reasons is the high rate of animals in Jackson that are neither spayed nor neutered, resulting in a high birth rate during the warmer months.
In addition, this difficulty is most often observed in a breed of dog: pitbulls.
“Most of all, absolutely, we have a pit bull overpopulation problem,” she said. “They represent 40 percent of our total intake.”
Pit bull overpopulation is a nationwide problem, Owen says, but it’s certainly more prevalent in urban settings like Jackson.
“They are the tallest dog in the country, the most abused dog in the country, and statistically only one in 600 pitbulls find a forever home,” she said. “They’re everywhere. Almost all of the dogs we euthanize are either a pit or a pit mix.
Thanks to this overcrowding, the refuge “absolutely has a space problem”.
To add to this, summer overcrowding can present a deadly problem for shelter residents.
“We don’t have air conditioning in the (dog area),” Owen said. “And most of the dogs that come here are heartworm positive. And it can be treated! But heat is a contributing factor during treatment: it can kill them if they get too hot.
“We just don’t have that kind of money to get air conditioning. So in the summer, if we treat a heartworm positive dog, we risk seeing it die from the heat.
Owen is begging the community to step in in two ways: spay or neuter your animals, or consider fostering or adopting them.
“We need temporary hotbeds while they are in this gray area between the engagement phase and transport,” she said.
The reception is particularly useful for the center, because the animal may be awaiting adoption or even in the process of adoption, without taking up space in the shelter for new animals.
According to Owen, foster care also helps the animal “have a chance to decompress and relax” and helps increase their chances of being adopted if they don’t already.
“You get much better photos (of the animal) because they’re also ravaged on the couch napping. It makes people want to adopt them, ”Owen said. “Foster homes benefit everyone.
“It gives you and your kids the fun aspects of owning a dog, like taking it to a dog park and driving it to Starbucks to get a puppy mug or getting it. snuggle up while you watch Netflix, but you won’t be financially responsible for it as we will provide food, crates, toys, blankets, bowls, whatever you need, we will provide it for you. of course, we will provide you with all the necessary medical care.
Essentially, the reception supports the shelter in a way it cannot provide, allowing for a smoother process for the animal and more room for other rescues.
“This is what we are missing,” Owen said. “A lot of people want to welcome puppies, very few people want to welcome adult dogs… We are in desperate need of foster families, and we desperately need the community to know, you know, if you are looking for your new pet. company, consult us. ! “
If foster care is out of the question, Owen asks residents to have their pets repaired.
“It’s a multi-faceted problem,” she laughed. “We desperately need adopters, we desperately need foster families. We desperately need people to stop dropping their pit bulls.
The shelter offers an assistance program to partially cover the costs of sterilization, while private donors have “stepped up to cover most of the remaining costs.”
“We’ll help you pay for the cost of fixing your pet,” Owen said. “If you just don’t have the money, we’re ready to work with you. We want everyone to be ready to have their pet repaired.
Readers who wish to help are encouraged to consult the refuge’s Amazon wishlist.
“This list covers the strengths of the things we use regularly,” Owen said. “Our operating supplies and our medical budget come from the same pool, so if you buy supplies from us, that frees up money for medical costs.”
A very popular need is for solid chew toys for stressed and bored dogs, as the shelter is more likely to spend money on medical care than toys for a pet’s brief stay, hopefully.
“The goal is to have this as a transitional space,” Owen said. “If a dog has to go without toys for a few weeks, but we can get him back healthy, that’s something we’re prepared to do.”
Additional needs include stuffed animals for orphaned kittens and blankets for cats, puppies and kittens, as well as laundry detergent to clean these items.
“(Donors) are providing something that we cannot provide,” Owen said. “And we are so grateful.”
Overall, this is an issue Owen knows will only get better if the community gets involved.
“You can’t get away with this,” she said. “It’s like you’re sitting in a boat and digging a hole in the bottom, no matter how fast you bail out, until you plug the hole, you’re never going to win the fight. We need to plug the hole and stop the constant influx of new ones.
“It’s a perfect storm of variables that creates a problem that requires community participation to be solved. “
Got a story to tell? Contact Angele Latham by email at [email protected], by phone at 731-343-5212, or follow her on Twitter at @angele_latham.