An unprecedented number of dogs recently surrendered to the Humane Society for Hamilton County has put the facility “in crisis,” according to President and CEO Rebecca Stevens.
“We have dogs in every cage, every kennel, every visiting room, every office in our building,” Stevens said during a March 20 report to the Carmel City Council. “It’s certainly not something I expected to see two years into a brand-new facility that offered us a great deal more space.”
HSHC moved into the new Steven J. Cage Foundation Animal Wellness Center in Fishers in April 2021. She said the 40,000-square-foot building was designed to have plenty of space to accommodate surrendered or abandoned dogs through at least 2036 but that the recent numbers of dogs coming to HSHC have far surpassed projections.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said. “I’ve been doing this for 18 years, and I’ve seen a lot. I’ve never seen this many dogs coming in.”
Stevens said the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to blame at least in part. Many dogs adopted during lockdowns in 2020 have been brought to HSHC as their owners have gone back to work in person full time or resumed other commitments and can no longer care for the animals.
HSHC has also taken in a growing number of dogs adopted from shelters outside of Hamilton County that have scant screening policies. Pet owners who live in Hamilton County may take these dogs, who are often found not to be a good fit with young family members or previously adopted pets, to HSHC.
Stevens said she’s been in contact with county commissioners to prevent this scenario, but she expects it will take some time.
“I’m working on a plan to make it a little more difficult for people to dump their pets on my doorstep,” she said.
Stevens is encouraging community members to consider adopting or fostering a dog from HSHC to help ease the strain. She said dogs of various sizes, ages and breeds are available.
Learn more at hamiltonhumane.com.