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


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 1 of 5.

(WJHL) – Every day our local animal shelters prepare for more unwanted dogs and cats to come through their doors. Often times, they are already at max capacity-  especially this time of year.

Coming into and out of the summer months is the height of  “kitten and puppy season.” According to local shelters directors, their intake numbers explode. 

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. 

Shelters across the region work hard every day to help homeless animals find loving, forever homes. 

A consistent problem they continue to face every year is overcrowding. There are simply too many animals in a facility with limited space and no where to go. 

“Every time an animal comes in a shelter there’s a clock ticking down to if it’s gonna survive or find a home,” says Kevin King, director of the Unicoi County Animal Shelter. 

Our local shelters believe this overpopulation and overcrowding comes primarily from people not spaying and neutering their pets. 

“It’s just inexcusable for people to not be responsible for their pet and continue to let their dog or their cat go outside, get pregnant, and knowing I’m just gonna go and dump those puppies and those kittens at the shelter. And then five months later here we go again,” says Tammy Davis, director of the Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter.

Thus leaving every cage and every kennel full with animals desperately waiting for a home. 

The Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society, a no-kill shelter, operates at max capacity year round. 

“You never know what’s gonna happen from day to day here or how crowded you’re gonna be tomorrow,” says Executive Director Amy Bowman. 

The Sullivan County Animal Shelter in Blountville, Tennessee hits maximum capacity many times throughout the year, but for cats specifically, they remain at capacity almost year round. 

“I think I’ve got 70, 80 cages for cats. But when you have 30 cats coming in one day and the next day you get 20  and you’ve got 2 or 3 leaving per day, sooner or later the numbers take over,” says the shelter’s manager Peter Hanson. 

Overcrowding forces harsh realities on our local shelters who are then forced to take desperate measures to lower their numbers. 

“We can only adopt out so many, we can only house so many at a time. The ultimate goal is to prevent these animals from ever coming into the shelter,” says Davis. 

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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