‘This crisis is not over’: Overpopulated Montgomery Co. animal shelter on how you can help

The Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center in Derwood, Maryland, continues to face an overpopulation crisis, even after waiving adoption fees on large dogs.

Earlier this month, the shelter announced that it is significantly over capacity, particularly with large dogs weighing more than 40 pounds. If adoptions or fosters do not increase, the shelter said it will have to resort to euthanizing dogs — something that it has never before had to do because of space concerns.

To encourage potential adopters, the shelter kicked off an initiative on July 13, doing away with adoption fees — which typically range from $75 to $150 — for the first 50 large dogs to be adopted.

In an update on Friday, the shelter said that more than two dozen large dogs have been adopted since the start of the initiative. However, the 50-dog goal still hasn’t been achieved, and new dogs come into the shelter every day — 31 in just the past week.

As such, the shelter population has only decreased by 10 dogs since July 13.

“We are in a slightly better place, this crisis is not over,” said Maria Anselmo, a spokesperson for the shelter, in the news release. “We are asking you to keep the momentum going. Come in to adopt, sign up to foster, keep spreading the word. These dogs still need your help.”

People who aren’t able to foster or adopt at this time can help limit shelter influx by donating dog and cat food to pet pantries, the shelter said. That way, animal owners who are struggling to afford their pets might not have to surrender them because of financial constraints. Maryland residents can locate nearby pet food pantries here.

Those who find themselves at risk of losing their pets due to financial hardship can review the resources available on the shelter’s website or contact them directly for support. The shelter also asked that people who come across lost pets try to reunite them with their owners before bringing them into the facility.

From January 1 to June 30, the shelter took in 1,117 dogs — a rate 22% higher than during the first half of 2022. Twenty percent of the 214 dogs who entered the shelter in June had not found permanent homes as of mid-July.

Montgomery County isn’t the only D.C.-area community grappling with shelter capacity issues. Earlier this week, the Fairfax County Animal Shelter reported that kennel cough is sweeping across its facility — a problem that the shelter said is exacerbated by overpopulation.

Interested adopters can visit the adoption center between noon and 7 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Adopters should be prepared to take an animal home at the end of their appointment. Walk-in appointments are subject to availability, but are encouraged as there may be cancellations.

Kate Corliss

Kate Corliss is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. She is a senior studying journalism at American University and serves as the Campus Life Editor for the student newspaper, The Eagle.

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