Waiting for a Home: What can be done to stop animal shelter overcrowding?

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News Channel 11’s special report “Waiting For a Home” is part of our mission to help the unwanted animals in the Tri-Cities find homes. This is part 3 of 5.

(WJHL) – A lot of the homeless animals in our local shelters find happy endings and forever homes, but many of them do not. Thanks to overcrowding, a large number of animals are stuck waiting for a home. 

“The way to stop that is if people would spay and neuter their pets and not allow them to reproduce. That would cut down drastically on the number of animals coming into the shelter,” says Davis. 

Solving the problem of overcrowded shelters cannot be done overnight. But, our local shelters highlight steps that can be taken toward a solution. 

They believe this all starts with educating the public on why spaying and neutering is so important. 

“Once we stop the breeding, we will eventually stop the cycle,” says Davis. 

Other problems our shelters are facing include a lack in county funding- they require more money than allotted by county budgets. Shelters need donations and money from the public to get by. A lot of problems stem from facilities. Many shelters are dealing with small, old buildings that do not have enough room for the amount of animals they take in. 

“A bigger shelter would help. But stricter spay and neuter laws would be ideal,” says Hanson. 

Several shelters here in the Tri-Cities say we need new laws requiring people to spay or neuter their animals.

“I think it should be forced on the individual people, if you’re choosing to have an animal you’re choosing to take care of it for life or at least you should be,” says King. 

Shelter directors also saying Tennessee should implement licensing, which would require paying a fee to own an animal. They see this as a way to also feed money back into local shelters. 

Another option is making spay and neuter services cheaper so more people have access.

“It’s implementing some type of spay neuter programs for low income people and also a program for low costs spay neuters for people in our community,” says Bowman. “Studies seem to show that the main reason people do not have their pets spayed or neutered is because of the cost. I think that’s something that needs to be addressed in our community.”  

This is a plan Bowman is trying to implement in Greene County in 2019.

“It will be a low income spay-neuter fund where the person would not have to pay any fee at all to have their pet spayed or neutered. Then also a low cost spay neuter fund that anyone could come and have their pet spayed or neutered at a very low cost,” says Bowman. 

But, spaying and neutering the stray population has its difficulties. Many counties ar implementing “trap, neuter, return” or “TNR” programs to help control the number of cats on the streets. 

“You trap that cat, and fix that cat, put it back where it has lived its life, put it back so it can not reproduce, therefore stopping the cycle,” says Davis. 

Of course, it also comes back to money. For every shelter, funding from the county only goes so far.

“We rely on donations from the community. If we did not get donations from the community we could not save animals,” says King. 

Somewhere along the line, to stop the overcrowding of our local shelters something has to change. 

“We will never adopt our way out of overcrowding, the minute one leaves out facility, you’ve got 10 behind it needing to come in. The only thing we can do is educate the public on the benefits of spaying and neutering their pets,” says Bowman. 


Waiting for a Home

Part 1: Waiting for a Home: Why are animal shelters so crowded?

Part 2: Waiting for a Home: Thousands of unwanted animals pack Tri-Cities shelters

Part 3: Waiting for a Home: What can be done to stop animal shelter overcrowding?

Part 4: Waiting for a Home: Animal shelter volunteers – a voice for the voiceless

Part 5: Waiting for a Home: Find your local animal shelter

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