Humane society at capacity with strays

Photos by Christine Stephenson/The Herald
Kelly Eckerle, Dubois County Humane Society’s shelter manager, gives a treat to Sadie, one of the dogs available for adoption, in the shelter’s new cat room. DCHS is at or close to capacity for both cats and dogs, as strays keep coming in and August is a slow month for adoption.

By CHRISTINE STEPHENSON
cstephenson@dcherald.com

JASPER — When the Dubois County Humane Society added new cat kennels earlier this year, staff expected the space to help with the constant influx of cats. But now, as adoption season slows, the shelter is still struggling to keep up.

“Right now, we are so full in shelter and in foster that we cant intake any more cats, and it actually is kind of the same with the dogs,” said Shelby Wendholt, who works at DCHS. “We got these new kennels, and we were excited because we thought we would be able to help the public more, but it’s just never-ending.”

Kitten season usually begins toward the end of May, so the shelter is always slammed from then until the fall, Wendholt said. Mid-August, especially this year, is particularly slow for adoptions.

“I think it’s just due to everyone finally going back to work from COVID and everybody going back to school,” Wendholt said. “The beginning of summer is always good for adoption because everybody’s going on summer break, and they’re excited to get a new pet that they can hang out with and get it adjusted over the summer before school starts again.”

Some shelters across the country have reported an increase in surrenders, which is when owners return their pets to a shelter if they don’t want them or can’t care for them anymore. This isn’t the case for DCHS, though.

“We keep getting strays,” Wendholt said, “so even the few dogs that are on our surrender list, we can’t take those, either. Every time we get an adoption and have an open kennel ... we get a surprise call with a stray that’s been found. It’s unreal right now in the dog world.”

Kelly Eckerle, Dubois County Humane Society’s shelter manager, gives a treat to Sadie, one of the dogs available for adoption, in the shelter’s new cat room. DCHS is at or close to capacity for both cats and dogs, as strays keep coming in and August is a slow month for adoption.

When someone wants to surrender a pet, they fill out a form and are placed on a waitlist until a spot opens up. This can take a while, Wendholt said. The shelter accepted a dog Tuesday morning that had been on the waitlist for weeks.

Adoptions did seem to significantly increase at the beginning of the pandemic, Wendholt said, but those pets aren’t the ones typically being surrendered.

Still, it’s important to do the homework before adopting any pets, she said.

“My best advice would be to make sure you do your research and make sure everybody in the family is ready to take on this commitment,” she said. “Any animal, whether its dog or cat, can take several weeks or months to adjust and feel like part of the family.”

With help from the community, DCHS raised more than $100,000 for renovations earlier this year. The first phase of renovations was installing the extra space for cats, including a cat room. This expansion will ideally triple the available space for cats, Shelter Manager Kelly Eckerle told The Herald earlier this year.

Further renovations, which the shelter is still fundraising for, will include more kennels for dogs, which aren’t at capacity as often, and extra space for the staff, storage, and hopefully additional features such as a vet suite so the shelter can hire a veterinarian.




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