Riverside County Department of Animal Services (DAS) is waiving all adoption fees indefinitely to offset the packed conditions at the county’s shelters in Jurupa Valley and Thousand Palms.
Animal Services Director Erin Gettis made the decision to waive adoption fees to generate more interest in adoptions, and to make a plea to the public and to rescue organizations. “We’re at maximum capacity and we need the public’s help to immediately improve the outcomes of dogs and cats currently in our care,” Gettis said.
The county is caring for almost 900 animals, including 644 dogs. Coachella Valley Animal Campus staff in Thousand Palms are caring for 211 dogs and 52 cats. Western Riverside County/City Animal Shelter staff in Jurupa Valley are caring for 420 dogs and 153 cats.
Riverside County is a high-volume sheltering organization, impounding more than 30,000 animals annually. The current trend is not sustainable. More animals are impounded by officers or brought into the shelter by the public than the number of animals getting adopted or transferred to rescue partner organizations. More than 20,000 animals arrived at the shelter as strays last year.
Right now, the county’s two shelters are seeing an abundance of large-breed dogs, in particular German shepherds and huskies. That’s what makes the current situation different compared to years ago when the shelter was filled with many different breeds and smaller breeds. “With large-breed dogs it becomes challenging with kenneling as some of these dogs need more space, or need to be kenneled separately which compounds our problem,” Gettis said.
Waiving adoption fees is done on special occasions for events and holidays, but waiving adoption fees in the foreseeable future is a new approach for DAS.
“It is important we send this message of our urgent need,” Gettis said. “As summer approaches, there are additional challenges with kitten season and the Fourth of July holiday when Animal Services sees a large increase of impounds.”
DAS also will seek long-term ways to address pet overpopulation. To help with these long-term efforts, DAS encourages the public to increase the number of spays and neuters, microchipping to assist in reuniting pets with their families, putting a collar and tag on a pet to help when they are lost, and spreading the word on the importance of these ways to help combat pet overpopulation.
Residents who cannot adopt are asked to assist in other ways, such as signing up to be a volunteer to help socialize and walk with the larger-breed dogs, or fostering animals in their homes, especially kittens.
These long-term ways will not solve the current need at the shelter, however. “At the moment, this is a call for immediate action,” Gettis said. “Please help reduce the number of animals in our care by adopting or rescuing large-breed dogs. The shelter is full and we cannot do this without your help.”