Animal overpopulation affecting Paragould Animal Control

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Recently, a large number of surrendered/unwanted pets are being dropped off at the Paragould Animal Shelter, from stray animals on the streets to owners just not being able to afford them.

"I don't know if it's just the people not caring or it's just once the dog gets bigger, more food and they're not able to take care of them or what-not," said Paragould Animal Control Officer Allen Massey.

He says the Paragould Animal Control is busting at the seams. "I mean, we're just getting overwhelmed by the number of people surrendering their dogs."

Big dogs, small dogs, a batch of puppies was brought in last Thursday by someone who said they saw them running loose in the county. Massey says the shelter stays full.

"I'm always willing to see the dogs come here instead of thrown out on the street. We've been seeing a lot of that here lately. People are just dropping the dogs off and that's actually considered animal cruelty for abandonment. It's like abandoning a child," said Massey.

Collars marked dogs that had been left behind or yet to be claimed by owners, which Allen says often doesn't happen. A number of the kennels where filled with two, three, even five dogs. "It's starting to limit me to spaces sometimes," said Massey.

Laura Wood is a Founding Member of P.A.W.S, Paragould Animal Welfare Society. It formed in 1998 to provide another outlet to help with the overflow of animals in the area. "We're seeing a little more this year of people surrendering animals because of financial reason than we have in the past two years," said Wood.

But she says it's not just a localized problem. "There truly is an epidemic. I think it's true in Jonesboro. It's true all over Memphis. Every animal shelter feels that."

One statistic Wood found describes it like this....if every family in the United States took in three animals from a shelter, there still wouldn't be enough homes for them all. "Animal shelters exist because we as the community need to step and start doing the right thing with our own pets," said Wood.

The organization's issued roughly 11,000 spay/neuter vaulters to low income families to try to counter act the overpopulation. While it's not a quick fix, it's a start. "If you look at some of the stats of just what spaying and neutering does. It curbs sometimes thousands of unwanted litters that eventually ends up in shelters. So we're trying to attack the problem from the back end," said Wood.

Massey says a law passed last summer in the state of Arkansas that requires all animals to be spayed or neuter before they can be adopted from a shelter.

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