CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Animal shelters always need people to foster or adopt, but the Elizabethton-Carter County Animal Shelter especially needs those individuals right now.

According to Shannon Posada, the shelter’s director, they are closed for intake at this time due to an increase in stray dogs taken in over the past week.

“We’ve probably had over 20 strays coming in throughout the week and over the weekend and this has just put us at capacity,” she said. Posada told News Channel 11 that this recent influx has increased their capacity to 55 dogs, which is a lot for a small shelter.

She said amid a busy kitten and puppy season, they’re not only seeing an increase in strays but also owner surrenders.

“With the economy the way it is now, the cost of gas prices, people just can’t afford food and gas so they have to make a choice between their life, their food, and their medication or the animals. We’re hearing that more and more,” Posada said.

She said it’s a terrible situation, one they’re seen a lot of firsthand in the past month. However, the stray issue seems to be the main contributor to the capacity issue.

In Johnson City, the Johnson City-Washington County Animal Shelter doesn’t seem to be facing the same struggles. The executive director of the shelter, Tammy Davis, said they’ve seen a slight increase in stray dogs but not a huge increase in owner surrenders. She said their busiest time of the year typically comes in the summer months. Right now their priority is getting fosters for their kittens.

“We are not at capacity which is good. We want to have as few animals in the shelter as possible at this time because we know that in the next couple of months we’re going to see that huge increase because summertime is extremely busy,” Davis said.

Posada agrees that the summer tends to be the usual time for this issue, but this year they’re facing it far sooner. She needs fosters for both dogs and cats and said if you have the means to adopt, please do so.

She worries if they continue on this path capacity-wise, there will come a time when they run out of space entirely and she doesn’t want to get to that critical point.

Although the sign states they’re closed for intakes, she emphasized that they never turn down an emergency case.

However, she’s urging current pet owners to help in combating the stray issue and asking them to keep a closer eye on their pets.

“We want people to have animals but we want them to be responsible pet owners,” Posada said.

She said by adopting, you’re not only helping with freeing up shelter space, but you’re also providing a forever home to these animals.