Overcrowded area pet shelters creating threats of euthanasia

Photo Courtesy of Ashtabula APL

Photo Courtesy of Ashtabula APL

Maura Zurick

Deshi, a terrier and pit bull mix, is just one of many dogs at the Ashtabula Animal Protective League (APL) that could be euthanized if he isn’t adopted.

The Ashtabula APL is waiving its adoption fees this week to encourage more adoptions and reduce the league’s overcrowding problem, officials said.

Deshi’s breed, which is typically stereotyped as violent or aggressive, and age make him less likely to be adopted, regardless of his other qualities. The Ashtabula APL lists 38 dogs on their adoption page.

After a “successful” adoption day at the Mentor PetSmart, at least 20 dogs and puppies were adopted, according to the APL’s Facebook page.

Diane Brunell, the treasurer of the Ashtabula Animal Protective League, said in addition to the PetSmart event, the adoption fee for dogs is removed to encourage people to adopt dogs, so they can avoid the mass euthanasia.

“For those who have pets already, they can help by being responsible,” she said. “Spay and neuter your animals. That’s something that could help immensely with this overpopulation problem.”

Brunell said she isn’t sure how many dogs they are over capacity, but it is a “substantial amount.”

“We try to not euthanize any of our animals,” she said. “We’ll do whatever we can to avoid that be it working with rescue groups throughout the state to help animals.”

The mass euthanasia will be decided sometime this week depending on how the adoption process goes with the waived fees.

Previously the adoption fees were $160 for dogs younger than six months and $100 for dogs aging from six months to eight years.

The Ashtabula APL has restrictions on adoption on a case-by-case basis determined by the adoption coordinator. For potential pet owners who live in an apartment complex, the APL does require written documentation stating animals are permitted in the apartment.

Brunell said as of now the euthanasia is only being considered for dogs, not cats.

The Ashtabula APL is a nonprofit but does receive funding from Ashtabula County, which means the shelter does not have a “no-kill policy.”

“We are classified as a county shelter because we work with the county for the dog ordinance and warden, so we do get some money there,” Brunell said. “Most of our money does come from donations.”

The overcrowding is not only an issue in Ashtabula County; the Portage County APL is also full because of overpopulation.

Chalan Lowry, the executive director of the Portage County Animal Protective League, said their shelter is also working hard to promote adoption in the community by doing events such as waiving adoption fees or encouraging foster care.

“I haven’t reached out specifically to Ashtabula because we’re already at capacity,” she said. “If I thought we could take some animals then I would certainly reach out. The sad reality is that overcrowding is a common problem. Any time a shelter is funded by the county there’s a space and a time limit.”

The Portage County APL screens all of its applicants, and they do not typically let college students adopt their animals.

“In our experience, many shelters don’t adopt to students because students get a pet while they’re away at school then they move on, and they don’t know what to do with their animal,” Lowry said. “We’ve just had too many animals returned to us by either students or their parents. It’s not that we think students don’t make good pet owners; it’s for the animals’ sake. We just ask that students wait until they’re more settled.”

Right now, the Portage County APL has about 25 dogs and 75 cats in the shelter plus 35 in foster care. This APL is a nonprofit and is funded solely by donations.

Lowry said she hopes the dogs at the Ashtabula APL go to good homes, and that they meet their numbers so they can avoid being euthanized. She said she urges people to think about getting a pet before doing it because pets should “be a part of a family.”

“I know it’s easy to adopt an animal because they’re cute, but the most important thing to remember is the commitment. We, unfortunately, see the animals that people get then don’t want anymore.” Lowry said. “I don’t think people look at a dog and go ‘oh, you’re going to be with me for 16 years.’ It really is a big commitment.”

For those considering adopting a dog from the Ashtabula APL, here is the list and photos of available dogs

Contact Marua Zurick at [email protected].