By Erin Eschels
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer
The Ingham County Animal Shelter went all of 2013 without putting down a single animal because of overcrowding. This year, the shelter is struggling to find room with animals coming in every single day, said Director Jamie McAloon-Lampman.
Last year, the shelter took in a little more than 3,300 animals, which was less than normal. In 2012, with more than 3,500 animals coming through the shelter, staff was forced to put down almost 150 animals due to the lack of space. However, this year’s peak summer season of the shelter is quickly approaching. In May through August, the number of animals brought in daily is overwhelming for the shelter’s staff and volunteers.
In hopes of continuing their streak of no animals being put down, volunteers at the shelter run mobile adoption events for on-site adoptions just about every Saturday to increase awareness of the animals.
“These programs that are all funded by donations and all handled with volunteer labor, are what’s actually reducing those numbers of unwanted animals in the community,” said McAloon-Lampman. “That’s what you have to do, reduce that number and then your shelter won’t have to work as hard at finding homes.”
For these weekly events, “the shelter will send some animals that they believe might do well in the mobile area,” said adoption counselor Cinnamon Simpson. “Most of the time, if there are animals in foster, this is the only exposure they get other than the websites.”
In addition, adoption for cats and kittens at these events are half off, as opposed to their adoption price at the shelter, where the cost ranges from $40 to $81, depending on the age of the cat.
When an animal is adopted on-site, “we usually shed a few tears, but if it’s a good match and they get a good home, it makes us very happy,” said shelter volunteer Jackie Gates.
Those that are not adopted are loaded back onto the truck to go back to the shelter or their foster homes, where they will stay until they are adopted. Ingham County Animal Control will take in any animal in the county that needs its services.
“Dog, cat, chicken, horse, pony, anything. And a lot of them are strays,” said Gates. “As an animal control, we can’t turn away any animal.”
Now that the shelter has recently filled up more quickly than normal and is running out of available space, volunteers and staff are hoping to increase adoption in the area.
“It is technically a kill shelter, but they really do try hard to get them all adopted. We have rescues that they work with and a great foster program. There are so many programs we do that really get the dogs exposure and get them out into the community to find them a home,” said volunteer Trisha Struck. “Last year not one adoptable dog got euthanized, so it was a great thing! But not every dog is going to make it out. There are aggressive dogs that just aren’t safe to release to the community, but most of the dogs that come in are awesome dogs. We all try very hard to find them a home.”
Animals are put down based on staff evaluations, then the director of the shelter makes the final decision, which is one that is not taken lightly. At one point last year, the shelter reached capacity with cats, which led to a plea for the people in the community to adopt a pet cat into their home. Fortunately for the shelter, enough stepped up so no cats were put down at that time.
“We really do have a great shelter, we have so much luck getting enough people to adopt the dogs. It’s a great place,” said Struck. “We have a great staff and a fantastic group of volunteers. And just knowing that you saved a life, it’s a very rewarding experience.”