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Crowded shelters, abandoned animals, a cyclical problem

By JOLEEN FERRIS

Gone are the days when you could no longer care for your pet and could simply leave it with the loving staff of the local animal shelter. While they sympathize with your plight, many shelters, including Stevens Swan Humane Society in Utica, simply do not have room for your dog.

"The bottom line is, these animals need shelter and we're here to provide that shelter," said Stevens Swan PR and Marketing Director Jerry Kraus. "But when we're full, our hands are tied, too."

Currently, around 40 people are on a waiting list to turn in their dogs to Stevens Swan. Animal sanctuaries face a similar challenge. Spring Farm Cares, in Kirkland, does take in animals, but they don't euthanize. That means that unless it's a cat, which they do adopt out, most animals stay with them forever. And right now, they're full.

"We turn away here anywhere from 60 to 100 animals a week. It's simply heartbreaking for us," says President Bonnie Jones Reynolds.

Rome's Humane Society also currently has no room for dog turn-ins. They say it takes around two weeks for spots to open up. If it's illegal and inhumane to abandon your pet, yet local shelters have no room for him or her, what can you do?

One local animal advocate says, plan ahead.

"If they know they're going to move, that's something that would give them a 30 day window to do something with their animals, so they don't find themselves with one or two days, and they're frantic. Plan ahead. Take care of your animals," says Kraus.

Utica's Animal Control Officer Chris Collver often points pet owners to the internet.

"The people that have their family pet that they can't keep any more, I try to refer them to either Craigslist posting to try to find a new home or Petfinder, which seems to be an excellent tool to help people find new homes for their pets," Collver said.

Spring Farm Cares' Reynolds said to make sure spay and neuter your pet in order to avoid putting unwanted animals into the world. An expensive proposition, but Reynolds says that Happy Hearth Spay / Neuter Program can often help by either off-setting or absorbing the costs. The number for Spring Farm Cares is 315-737-8035.

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