Shelter sees rise in number of abandonments

TUPELO – A surge in the number of puppies and kittens brought to the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society has its officials worried about their rising euthanasia rate.
Last month the shelter took in an average of 21 animals per day; this month it has spiked to 31 daily – an increase of 60 pets a week in a facility that can handle only 150 at a time.
As a result, many healthy cats and dogs are being euthanized almost immediately after admittance. On Tuesday, for example, a resident surrendered a litter of 10 Labrador-mix puppies.
On Wednesday, all were put to sleep because the shelter lacks space, said Director Debbie Hood.
“We took in 200 last week, and on Monday we took in 73 alone,” Hood said. “We’re being bombarded with both puppies and kittens right now. I guess because it’s spring.”
Animals typically breed and give birth in the spring, leading to an annual overpopulation problem for the shelter around this time each year.
At the same times, the adoption rate has slowed and fewer of the shelter’s animals are finding homes. Hood said the staff works with rescue agencies to place the pets at other shelters nationwide.
But that still leaves several hundred animals euthanized each month – and several thousand each year.
Last year alone, the humane society here had to put down more than 6,000 cats and dogs. That’s seven out of every 10 it took in.
“Our hearts break each time we are forced to put an otherwise healthy animal to death simply because we do not have appropriate housing for him or her,” said board President Rachel Pierce. “Nevertheless, that is the reality of our current situation.”
Hood asked residents thinking of abandoning animals at the shelter to instead consider other options first.
She suggested trying to place the pet with a friend or another family member, running a classified ad offering it up for adoption, or asking for assistance with pet supplies and upkeep.
“I have offered people dog food just to help them keep their animal so they can feed them,” Hood said.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

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