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Broward animal shelter operating over capacity, offers incentives for adoption

The Broward County shelter is offering incentives for adoption as they try to get the number of animals in their shelter down.
Gerard Albert III
The Broward County shelter is offering incentives for adoption as they try to get the number of animals in their shelter down.

Broward County's animal shelter is running out of space and is pitching pet owners with more incentives to keep their pets.

And it's so full that its managers are turning to any area of the shelter to house incoming pets.

“We have dogs in people's offices. We have dogs in our conference room. We have dogs in the front lobby, just places that we normally don't house the dogs," shelter spokesperson Attiyya Atkins said. "We have two makeshift kennels and, you know, just take care of them because they just keep coming in.”

The rising cost of living and pet food is driving more and more pet owners to giving up their pets and turning them over to the county-run shelter.

The increasing number of pets in shelters is not unique to South Florida. Shelters across the country are being overwhelmed with pet owners handing over their animals to shelters

Calling attention to the issue, Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis recently met with state officials and animal advocates in Tallahassee to find ways to protect the pet population and lower euthanasia rates.

Citing a 2021 study, Casey said researchers found a 12% rate of euthanasia among the nearly 360,000 pets housed statewide in shelters.

“As a life-long pet lover, I know the positive impact our four-legged friends can have on our lives," she said in a statement. "The statistics on pet euthanasia due to overcrowded shelters are disheartening, and I know that more can be done to save these animals."

Gov. Ron DeSantis has proposed sales tax changes that include a one-year tax exemption on pet food and a permanent tax exemption on over-the-counter pet medications.

Broward shelter officials said they typically see high numbers of arrivals around the holidays, but they are now operating past their capacity. Usually the shelter can handle up to 120 dogs — it now has more than 140 dogs.

“We actually are already at a point where we don't necessarily turn people away, but we give them more options to keep the animals in their homes. So if somebody can't afford food for their pet, we will have resources and we will get you food,” Atkins said.

To encourage them to keep their pets, the shelter is now offering free food for life for any dogs adopted who are over the age of 5. Pets also come with all their vaccines and microchips.

“We're just reaching out to people who do have that space, that time, that energy to come adopt and alleviate some of this overcapacity problem that we have,” Atkins said.

The shelter has waived fees and there is no cost for adopting a dog or cat. The shelter also offers programs for volunteers to adopt dogs for a few days or a few hours. Atkins says even taking a dog to the park for an hour is a big help.

"We really need community partners to step up and help us out. We need people who are animal lovers and are interested to really take part in what we have here," Atkins said.

A virtual list of animals ready for adoption can be found here. Those interested in volunteering for the Broward shelter can find more information here.

Gerard Albert III covers Broward County. He is a former WLRN intern who graduated from Florida International University. He can be reached atgalbert@wlrnnews.org
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