Deminique Heiks

Portage County families feel the pains of this rough economy and so do their best friends. Dogs and cats are being dropped off in droves to the Portage County Animal Protection League.

The shelter is located on the outskirts of Ravenna. It is non-profit and runs solely on donations from the community.

114 cats reside at the Portage APL, said Humane Officer Jeff Hartung, but they are only supposed to have 40.

“Since I started here we’re way overpopulated now, because I bring them in every day,” said Hartung.

When someone brings an animal at the shelter, because they can no longer care for it, it is called owner surrender. This is becoming a huge issue for Hartung and the shelter.

Foreclosure signs are popping up in every community. If a family has no home, it often becomes too difficult to care for pets.

“I get a lot of abandonment calls right now from foreclosures and evictions and what the people are doing is they are leaving their animals behind,” said Hartung.

That day alone, they brought in 19 Chihuahuas, but that was because of another issue: animal hoarding. The issue is so common in this country a reality program was made about it.

Hartung is investigating four cases of animal hoarding in Portage County.

“It’s dangerous not only for the people, but the animals, said Hartung. “These animals have no place to lay down and get comfortable.

Between foreclosures and animal hoarding, the shelter is barely scraping by. The average cost to care for each animal is over $700.

“Every little bit helps, every little bit,” said the shelter manager Bev Bickley.

The season of giving provides the perfect chance for the community to help out. The shelter even has a wish list.

You can get more information about the Portage APL on their website at www.portageapl.org.