Director of Fort Bend County Animal Services Rene Vasquez said their facilities are so overcrowded that they currently have 35 dogs in black wire crates because there is no space in their normal shelter cages to hold these animals.
The animal shelter and rescue center has about 25 cats and 240 dogs who are need adoption, he said.
“This has been a very bad year for us, if it gets any worse, I don’t know what we would do,” Vasquez said. “I mean it is just stray pick up after stray pick up and adoptions seem to have slowed down. It's been difficult on our staff and animals, and we are trying and doing everything we can.”
To help out staff and facilities that cannot keep up with the increase in animal intakes, Best Friends Animal Society asked Fort Bend County Animal Services to partner with them as they are hosting events for National Adopt a Shelter Animal Day this weekend.
Galvan is focused on incentivizing adoptions, but also providing these alternative choices for those that might not want to fully adopt but still assist these shelters, she said.
“Fostering and even volunteering are easier ways for community members to be a part of the solution,” Galvan said. “Both help these shelters and their staff members to open up spaces for animals to be able to go into these facilities and then hard decisions don’t have to be made about killing a pet because of lack of space or resources.”
Vasquez said their shelter is accepting fosters, both short-term and long-term as a part of their foster-to-adopt program, where potential adopters are able to keep an animal, they may want for a longer period of time.
“You can take the pet home with you, make sure they do well in your house and with your yard and any other pets or family members and if it is a perfect match, then we do the adoption,” Vasquez said.
And because Fort Bend County Animal Services is one of the shelters completely waiving their adoption fees during this weekend’s events; if a pet-owner fosters and decides to adopt this weekend, their adoption will be completely free of charge, he said.
All animals that are up for adoption on Saturday and Sunday at their facilities are spayed or neutered, microchipped, have all their vaccinations and are tested for heart worms prior to their adoption.
According to Galvan, having access to volunteers is also another way to help as many of the animal intake facilities are struggling with understaffing and a lack of volunteers to make up for these shortages.
“I don’t think people realize that in Houston, which is the fourth largest city, we have shelters that have two staff members for the whole shelter,” Galvan said. “That happens here, that is why we chose to partner with shelters and rescue centers of all sizes and kinds so that we can help improve operations and save more pets.”
Vasquez said volunteers need to understand that they aren’t just interacting or playing with the animal they are taking care of, shelters also need their help with the larger duties that the employees are doing.
“A lot of times people think they just have to be with the animal, but that’s not true,” Vasquez said. “We have a large amount of laundry and tasks that need to be taken care of and that’s done by the staff. If we don’t have enough employees, how are we all going to clean, feed or take care of these animals?”
He expects a relatively large turn out as events at their shelter tend to draw people who are considering adopting. The only requirement of those that are coming in to adopt or foster is to bring a form of identification in order to fill out the paperwork.
Galvan said that these requirements will vary per each shelter participating in the weekend's events. Offerings and waived or reduced fees will depend on each facility too, she said.
The first 100 adopters will be given a care package to kick-off their pet ownership process. They will be provided with collars (and leashes for dogs), bags of food, toys and fliers about the home-acclimation process and access to affordable local vet care services.
Galvan advises those wanting to attend to check the hours of operation as they may be different at each facility; Fort Bend County Animal Services adoption hours are from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We are just trying to do different things to bring the community back together and adopt from our shelter and others, like they did in the past,” Vazquez said.
A list of the Greater-Houston area shelters participating:
• BARC Animal Shelter & Adoptions
• City of Baytown Animal Services & Adoption Center
• City of Friendswood Animal Control
• City of Pearland Animal Shelter & Adoption Center
• Ft. Bend County Animal Services
• Galveston Animal Resource Center
• Harris County Pets
• La Porte Animal Shelter
• League City Animal Care
• Montgomery County Animal Shelter
• Navasota Animal Control
• Rosenberg Animal Control & Shelter
• SPCA Brazoria County
• San Jacinto County Animal Control
• Sugar Land Animal Services