Residents and officials in Cherokee County, Texas, have reported an increase in the population of abandoned dogs and cats in the past few years. The rising number of stray and homeless pets has been partly attributed to the poor condition of the economy. Cherokee also has only one shelter for pets catering for the whole county.
Some think that the time might be ripe for the area to consider pet shelters from foreclosures, or use abandoned foreclosed properties as pet care facilities to address the growing problem. Local officials are expecting the numbers to increase further as people who have lost their jobs or are experiencing reduced income abandon their pets due to inability to provide for them or pay shelter fees. The issue is not unique to Cherokee as shelters in all parts of the country are experiencing the same problem.
The rise in the number of houses in foreclosure has resulted in vast numbers of people forced to relocate, with most of them leaving their pets behind. Even in areas with several animal shelters, the problem is quite common. In Cherokee, only the Klein Animal Shelter, located in Jacksonville, can take in strays and abandoned pets, and the shelter is already overwhelmed, what with abandoned pet populations continuing to rise in the region.
According to shelter officials, the number of abandoned dogs and cats in the area has been increasing by at least 10% in the past three years, with the 2010 population estimated to have risen by 20% from the previous year. They reported that, now, it is normal for the shelter to receive between 50 and 70 phone calls in a single week from people reporting abandoned pets or stray animals.
The rise in the number of homeless animals has caused a variety of problems, officials have said; with property destruction and health and safety concerns being just some of them. They also stated that animals left behind by their owners need attention, given that most pets have become highly domesticated, which makes survival outside of their former homes harder. The tendency, shelter officials explain, is to form a pack with other homeless animals, which can result in further troubles for neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, the Klein shelter is trying to address the problem of the overwhelming number of abandoned dogs and cats in the community by offering discounted neuter and spay services once a month. The cost of neutering and spaying at the shelter is between $25 and $65.