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Winter Causes Overcrowding At Local Animal Shelters

Created: 02/14/2014 6:59 PM KAALtv.com

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Winter is difficult for all of us, but particularly for animal shelters who say this can be their busiest time of year.

The new Mower County Humane Society opened in September with space for about 100 cats and 26 dogs, but they're well over that now.

"We are at about 120 cats and kittens, so definitely very full,” said Kelly Rush, a volunteer at the shelter. “No more room at the inn, so to speak."

The shelter also has more dogs than it was built to hold, and volunteers say winters are always a busy time because animals that were once comfortable outside are now causing problems indoors.

"[Cats are] looking for shelter. They're going in people's garages and sheds trying to stay warm,” Rush said. “And that's what's going on, people are turning them in looking for help."

With only six dogs adopted so far this month and another ten on the waiting list to be taken in, space is slow to open up.

And in fact, this time of year can be especially difficult because of people who give pets as gifts on holidays like Christmas and Valentine's Day, only to find later that the pet isn't a good fit.

"I discourage people to give a pet as a gift unless they've talked with the person ahead of time,” Rush said. “Let the owner pick out the cat or the dog that they would be interested in."

And having so many animals can be both a burden on workers and on the shelter itself.

"We still have the same number of volunteers, but we have more animals, so we always need more volunteers when we get this many,” Rush said. “The other part is obviously financial."

With volunteers taking care of all shots, blood tests, and medical treatments, the cost of care continues to rise with every new arrival.

If you're interested in helping the humane society, they will be holding a fundraiser, which includes a pasta dinner and silent auction, this Sunday at the Holiday Inn in Austin from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and our own ABC 6 News Good Morning team will be there serving up some pasta.