The Lawrence Humane Society's animal shelter is having a record year.
Unfortunately, for the animals housed there and employees trying to keep up with the unusually high number of unwanted pets being left at the shelter, that's not good news.
"There's a definite problem out there, and people are going to have to start spaying and neutering their pets," says Roma Tesch, manager of the animal shelter.
Tesch, who has worked at the animal shelter for 10 years, says more dogs and cats have been left at the shelter this spring, and that they're coming in earlier than ever before, filling the shelter to capacity and requiring animals that are not adopted to be exterminated sooner.
"We usually don't have this many until June or July," she said.
TESCH SPECULATED that the increasing cost of caring for a pet, combined with a mild winter, have contributed to the large number of animals being left at the shelter.
"Last year we were having a lot of puppies and kittens, but this year we're also having a lot of adults come in," she said.
She said the shelter's population exploded a few weeks ago.
"It's not students who are bringing in the animals, it's the general public. But finals are still going on, and we may get some from the students next week," she said.
"The number one excuse people have is that their landlord doesn't allow pets," she said.
"If people are moving somewhere where they're not allowed to have pets, then they shouldn't get a pet."
TESCH SAID the shelter has added an extra day of exterminating dogs and cats during the last few weeks.
"Normally, that's done twice a week, but we've had so many that we've had to make room for more animals coming in," she said.
Three local veterinarians perform animal euthanasia services at the shelter on a rotating basis. The animals are cremated after receiving a lethal injection.
Animal euthanasia is a waste, Tesch says, but "at least at the shelter it's done in a humane way. It's better than the animal starving to death or being eaten by another animal."
Destroying the animals also is demoralizing to the shelter's staff, who have to decide which animals to put to sleep, she said.
"That's probably the hardest part about this job," Tesch says.
The animal shelter, 1805 E. 19th, has facilities to house about 60 dogs and 20 cats.
However, Tesch says new arrivals cannot be housed if the shelter is filled to capacity.
THE SHELTER for a limited time is offering $25 discounts for spaying and neutering of animals that are adopted.
Tesch said local spaying costs range from $40 to $65 for a cat, and from $50 to $97 for an average-size dog of 60 pounds. Neutering costs are slightly less, she said.
"I don't think people realize how much veterinarians charge and how much the other costs are when they adopt a pet," she said.
Animal shelter adoption hours are from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
A recent $500 donation to the shelter by the Purina pet food company has enabled the shelter to reduce the adoption price for dog and cats by $10.
Currently, the cost is $50 for a dog and $35 for a cat. The adoption cost is applied toward veterinary spaying or neutering services, and includes shots, collars and identification tags.
"There's a lot of really nice dogs and cats that are looking for a good home," Tesch said. "But people who want to adopt a pet should be prepared to take care of the pet for 10 to 15 years."