Adoptions urgently needed to curb overcrowding at Monroe County Animal Shelter

MADISONVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Staff at the Monroe County Animal Shelter are very busy. Like hundreds of shelters across the country, the one in Monroe County is over capacity and currently has more than 200 animals on the waiting list.

But hope is high that a new animal shelter in Monroe County can help solve a number of problems. The plan is to build it just a few 1,000 feet from the current shelter, but more funding is needed to make the dream a reality.

“We have animals stored everywhere,” said Teresa Underwood, executive director of Friends of Animals of Monroe County. “All the medical care we provide is done in this tiny little room here.”

It’s tight quarters at the shelter along Kefauver Lane and Underwood as well as its animal-loving team trying to meet needs with what they have.

“It’s quite stressful because we have to find where we can put these animals. We have some in the kitchen. We have moms with puppies in the puppy room,” she said.

The shelter is well over its capacity limit. Typically, it’s supposed to house 80-90 animals, but right now more than 120 live there.

“When we can overtake, we do and that’s the only way to hold these animals,” Underwood said. “We have reduced our reception capacity. It used to be around 6,000 a year and now it’s down to less than 2,000 a year, but I’m afraid it’s going up here in recent months.

Underwood speculates that the current state of the national economy is taking a heavy toll on pet owners in Monroe County, fueling the rise in the number of abandoned pets.

“The cost of living is rising. Grocery stores, shopping and then buying animals to feed them are expensive. Traveling, taking them to the vet. There is a shortage of veterinarians right now. So if you can’t take your animal to the vet, you can’t have it spayed or neutered, so you can’t prevent animal production,” Underwood said.

Some of the shelter dogs live outside. The good news is that 75% of the funding for a new, larger shelter is secured.

“In the new shelter, these animals, especially dogs, can come and go indoors and outdoors with indoor and outdoor kennels,” Underwood said. “There will be less spread of disease because we can control the airflow in the new shelter. And there will be a bigger lobby so the community will have more space when they walk through the door to adopt or return their animals.

Underwood added that she and her team did not want to be put in the position of euthanizing adoptable animals to make room in the current shelter. About $1.3 million is still needed to build the new one.

While Underwood says a new shelter doesn’t guarantee a solution to overcapacity issues, the best thing to do is to be prepared.

Click here to learn more about adopting and adopting pets at Monroe County Animal Shelter.

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