WEATHER, ECONOMY, OVERBREEDINGHumane society shelter overridden with residents

Published 11:29 am Monday, July 23, 2012

On Friday, 28 animals were delivered to the Vicksburg-Warren County Humane Society Shelter. One left.

That one — and many like it — have been so sick with parasites from overbreeding, a bad economy and a mild winter that it had to be euthanized.

“We’re having animals that are coming in that are so infested with fleas that they are literally walking across their eyeballs,” said Georgia Lynn, society president.

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On Saturday, 35 more animals arrived at the shelter, but none left, forcing the society to close its 24-hour drop off, Lynn said.

“We don’t have any room at all. That’s how horrible it’s been this summer,” Lynn said.

Animals were being diverted today to Mississippi Animal Rescue League in Jackson, Lynn said. Those who can’t make it to Jackson should call the humane society at 601-636-6631 to try to set up alternate arrangements, she said.

Last year, the shelter took in 1,887 cats and dogs and 15 neglected or injured horses, Lynn said. In the first six months of this year, the number was 1,062.

“That’s just a huge increase,” Lynn said.

The unseasonably warm winter caused an elongated breeding season, leaving more stray animals to be cared for this winter than normal, Lynn said.

“I think it’s a big problem,” Lynn said. “Usually that’s the break that shelters get,” she said.

At the heart of the problem are lost or unwanted pets who have not been spayed or neutered and breed with other strays.

“We still just have an overwhelming number of people who don’t spay and neuter their pets,” Lynn said. “It’s a one-time cost. It’s not like you have to get it done over and over.”

The adoption rate has dropped by 50 percent, causing overcrowding at the shelter, Lynn said.

Parasites and mange have increased greatly because of the mild winter, Lynn said. Nearly every animal that is rescued is covered in fleas, and mange is at an all-time high, she said.

The humane society also has seen an increase in the number of pets dropped off by owners who no longer are financially able to care for them. Some of the left-behind pets are dogs and cats whose owners had to move into smaller homes that were not pet friendly.

Others are horses and donkeys whose owners didn’t realize the cost of upkeep or simply neglected them. One of the donkeys had been injured — wounds to the chest possibly caused by another animal’s kicking it, Lynn said — and is having to be treated with two rounds of medicine each day.

Another dropped off is a young pot belly pig named Jimmy Dean who, at nearly 200 pounds, still tromps around the grounds like a small dog.

People have also brought in ferrets, guinea pigs, birds and rabbits, Lynn said.

“The bigger the animal, the more it costs,” Lynn said. “I wish people would understand what they are getting and how to take care of it.”

To care for all the extra animals, the humane society is preparing to expand and build a barn for horses and other large animals. Construction is set to begin Aug. 15, Lynn said.

“I wish it could have been yesterday,” she said.