Overcrowding persists at OKC animal shelter

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Marley is available for adoption through Oklahoma City Animal Welfare. Adoption fees have been waived to help reduce the population at the animal shelter. (Courtesy Photo/Oklahoma City Animal Welfare)

OKLAHOMA CITY — A successful June 3-5 adoption weekend reduced the city’s animal shelter population by 372 pets, but three weeks later the kennels are again full beyond their capacity. ability.

Animal Welfare Superintendent Jon Gary said more than 400 dogs and 230 cats were being cared for at the shelter on Monday. That’s 136% and 120% of capacity, respectively, he said. Another 800 animals that Oklahoma City Animal Welfare is responsible for are in foster care.

The city has waived adoption fees for dogs and cats until severe overcrowding at the shelter is alleviated.

“We welcome 2,000 animals in June. It’s the best time of year,” Gary said. The number of homeless cats increases every May and lasts through the summer, while the dog population is stable year-round, he said. “Unfortunately, overcrowding is an ongoing concern.”

MAPS 4 includes $38 million for a new animal shelter to replace the current facility, which was built in 2001 and is now inadequate.

“It will definitely be a better space for the animals,” Gary said. “He can’t get here fast enough for us. The wait can sometimes be heartbreaking.

The design phase is expected to start early next year and be completed in 2026.

“So much has been learned about shelter design over the past few years,” Louisa McCune said when voters endorsed the MAPS 4 program. “Unfortunately, much of what we have learned shines a light on what doesn’t fit with our existing setup, from the plumbing and ventilation to the fit-out.”

McCune, executive director of the Kirkpatrick Foundation, serves on the board of Patrons of OKC Animal Welfare and on the neighborhoods subcommittee for MAPS 4. She was one of the grassroots group leaders who campaigned for a new refuge.

“This is a big step towards eliminating unnecessary euthanasia by creating more capacity, more efficiency in design, and a more welcoming environment for all visitors to the shelter, which will greatly improve the adoption rate. “, she said.

The new shelter will have more and larger dog kennels, as well as smaller rooms with fewer dogs per room, Gary said. This should reduce noise and bustle for visitors and the 60 staff.

Gary said 70% of the animals at the shelter are brought in by the public and the rest by field workers. He encourages people to use social media to try to reconnect animals with their owners before bringing them to the shelter.

“Most are adoptable, so we have to do our best to get them out,” he said. “Our goal is to place all the animals that can be placed.”

Since 2017, the goal has been to save 90% of animals and only euthanize those that cannot be adopted for health or temperament reasons. The current rate is 88%, Gary said.

All adoptable dogs and cats are vaccinated, microchipped, dewormed and sterilized. Two full-time and one part-time veterinarians and seven assistants look after the health needs of more than 1,400 animals in the shelter and foster homes.

The summer months are busy adoption months, which is good because it’s the peak intake period, Gary said. He said the shelter would continue to waive adoption fees for as long as possible to help place as many animals as possible.

The shelter is at 2811 SE 29th St. It is open for pet adoptions and recovery from noon to 5:30 p.m. daily except holidays.

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