Pets crowding into animal shelters

Animal shelters are getting overcrowded by a rush of spring kittens. But if the animals don't get adopted, they could be put down.

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DURHAM, N.C. — Animal shelters have reduced fees and extended hours in an effort to get more animals out of crowded shelters and into good homes.

The Durham County Animal Shelter had twice as many cats this week as it is designed to handle. Spokesman Simon Woodrup said that 120 cats and kittens were doubled up in 65 cages.

"At some point, a human failed to take responsibility for these animals," he said.

To encourage people to adopt the animals, the shelter reduced fees for all cats from $95 to $25 Saturday. Fees for the cats that have been at the shelter the longest have been permanently lowered.

Samantha Pendse, of Apex, was among those came out Saturday. She wanted a new furry companion for her cat.

"You just want to take them all home," Pendse said.

The adoption push Saturday was successful – 87 cats and kittens got new homes, Woodrup said. That's the most adoptions the shelter has ever done in one day.

The Cumberland County Animal Shelter is experiencing a similar overcrowding problem, Director Dr. John Lauby said in a statement Friday.

Starting Monday, the number of hours the shelter is open will be nearly tripled, from 17 to 46 hours a week. It will be open 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 1-4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Animal shelters can quickly become overcrowded this time of year, Woodrup said. Cats usually give birth in the spring and summer, so new kittens are being brought in as fast as older ones can be adopted out.

"When we have more animals than space, we run out of room," he said

That shortage of space doesn't just create logistical problems – it means that adoptable pets are euthanized.

"Perfectly good animals are being put to sleep," Woodrup said. "That is a tragedy if it happens to one, and for us, it is happening in the thousands."

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Greg Hutchinson, Photographer
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