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Orange County Animal Services’ Facebook plea works, but not enough

ORANGE COUNTY, Florida – Orange County Animal Services posted on its Facebook page Saturday, discussing the hundreds of animals stored at the shelter and asking local residents for support.

Animal Services’ desperate and passionate plea over the weekend was seen by 21,000 people on Monday morning, some of whom showed up at Animal Services to take home a dog.

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“We want our community to understand our situation,” the post read. “This is not about an agenda or a crusade. It’s not about people’s personal opinions about shelters, certain races, the legislature, the administration, or politics. It’s about our animals.”

Diane Summers, manager of animal services, said it didn’t even fix the problem.

“From the moment we started sharing how full we are, on Saturday and Sunday our lobby was packed with people coming to adopt,” Summers said. “But unfortunately, we still saw so many animals come in that the number of people that came in did not outnumber the animals that came in. To some extent, I think we’re spinning our wheels.”

The shelter has been forced to house two to three dogs in a single kennel.

“And every day he brings 20-25 more animals; such as deliveries, loss, abandonment, cruelty. We are doing everything we can, but we cannot do this alone,” the shelter wrote.

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As of Monday morning, 209 dogs were housed at Animal Services. Typically, the capacity is about 175 dogs.

“Any time you do that, you risk potential kennel fights or the spread of disease,” Summers said. “That’s why we’re really trying to promote how crowded we are in an effort to get these animals out of here and not face the risk of overcrowding.”

Summers said the shelter is facing an unprecedented situation; the only other shelter in Orange County, Pet Alliance, closed last year after a fire; the economy, inflation in particular, is making it difficult for some people to afford their pets; and some breeders should not breed.

“To a large degree, it’s irresponsible breeding,” Summers said. “What that means is that people breed dogs with no solid plans for where they are going, they breathe high volumes of litters and unfortunately a lot of abusive breeding, which means it can be difficult to find housing due to housing restrictions. We need our people to make better decisions when it comes to raising animals. Unfortunately, those dogs have a really hard time because a lot of people have apartment restrictions or HOA restrictions, so they are a breed that is predominantly prohibited in many types of housing.”

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Summers said that’s about half the problem. Many of the dogs in the shelter right now are pit bulls or pit bull mixes.

Orange County Animal Services is an “open admission” shelter, which means dogs are not turned away, but some are euthanized due to illness or behavior problems.

“This is us really exposing them, being as honest as possible, saying we need help,” Summers said. “This is a community problem and we cannot ignore it. We really need help right now.”

Summers pleaded with people to find alternatives before bringing pets to Animal Services. She said that she check with neighbors, friends or family members before turning dogs over to the shelter because it could cost the dog its life. Animal services should be the last resort.

Orange County is currently waiving all fees for dogs for adoption.

“Now it depends on our community. To intervene, step up and lend a hand. This is about our animals,” the shelter said.

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For more information about Orange County Animal Services, click here.

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