HELENA — The Lewis and Clark Humane Society has seen a large influx of animals this year. Staff says the shelter is full and they need help to address the situation.
“Growth is generally pretty normal, but we are actually at around 200 animals ahead of where we were at this point last,” explained Director of Development and Communications Cassidy Cook. “We have a backlog of people waiting to surrender their animals, we have a lot of strays that people are not claiming for whatever reason and so it’s just kind of been like we felt like most of the summer we’re bursting at the seams.”
The shelter is holding a $50 adoption event for both dogs and cats on Saturday, July 23, from 12-4 p.m. More information about available animals can be found on their website.
LCHS cares for around 1,500 to 1600 animals on average every year. As with any place, the shelter has a capacity of how many animals their resources will allow them to care for. As of Tuesday, there are 230 animals currently in the care of the Humane Society. Foster care has been a big help, allowing 108 of those homeless animals to be housed off-site, but it’s still costly for the Humane Society.
“When animals are under our care in foster care we’re still financially supporting them,” Cook noted. “So we are having a lot of animals at the shelter that obviously we have to take care of and we have a lot of animals in foster care we have to take care of. So financially it’s also quite a burden not just in terms of physical space but we have more animals in our care at any given time all the time right now.”
Cook says LCHS had recent successful adoption events, but as soon as animals go out more come in. The staff has also noticed they’re not getting as many adoption applications as in previous years. LCHS believes the decline of applicants could have to do with more summer vacation/recreation options being available compared to previous years, and people returning to work full time after working from home during the pandemic.
Some animals are also being sent to other shelters to help alleviate the problem. Transferring animals is a common practice between many Montana animal shelters.
“Sometimes just getting them a change of scenery and a change of audience. People might see them at Yellowstone Valley and they might get adopted the first week, we see that happen all the time,” said Cook. “It’s nice to have a network of shelters that corporate with each other, and support each other and understand what it’s like to do this.”
Cook urges those who have been thinking about adopting to reach out. Staff can help people with a survey to help with finding the right pet for a family. People can apply to be a foster, even if it’s only for a day to get the animal out of the shelter.
Another way to help is to make a monetary donation. The longer an animal is at a shelter, the more money it costs to care for them. LCHS say they will always work to find a way to support homeless animals, stretching every dollar as far as possible. However, with the influx of animals currently, extra donations can help make sure none of their other projects are forced onto the back burner due to funding.