The Humane Society of Odessa has seen a rise in the number of dogs that have been dumped illegally and the staff is pleading with the community to stop.
Dumping animals is both illegal and also dangerous to the pets.
Shelter Director Heather Silvia says this is a problem that’s been going on for years where people will dump their pets or strays that they find but said that recently, it has gotten worse where people have thrown dogs over the fence at the shelter.
“It’s been going on for years,” Silvia said. “We have an overpopulation issue here. People still backyard breed and giving away on the side of the road and dumping them on the side of the road. If they can’t find them a home, they dump them. a lot of times they dump them over here with us. If we don’t know that they’re there, that’s potentially dangerous for them, especially with the heat. We’re seeing a rise in that.”
Silvia said their efforts to beg people not to illegally dump their pets are limited. Getting their word out has been a challenge.
“There’s not a whole lot that we can do except reach out to (the media) and try to educate people that there are other ways,” Silvia said. “You don’t have to dump your pet.”
If for some reason people can’t keep their pets, Silvia said there are better ways than to dump them.
“There are many rescues in this town,” Silvia said. “They are willing to help. You just have to give them some time to find a spot for your pet. Dumping them is not the answer.”
Another reason why dumping pets is bad is because it hurts the shelter.
“Our vet bills are sky high and we’re having to foot the bill for these animals because nobody else is going to do it,” Silvia said. “Animals dumped on us, we’re not going to turn our heads. We’re going to take them in. they need to see a vet, we’ll take them to a vet and see what they need. Our vet bills are crazy high and we need the community to help us. We’re needing donations.”
Office Manager Christyna Taylor, who’s been working at the shelter for almost five years, says this has been a problem since she’s been working at the Humane Society and said that this year has gotten worse.
“We’ve seen an increase in animals in general,” Taylor said. “I’m here the entire work day and I see the amount of people who call or come in and on average, we get about 50 people between coming in and walking in that try to bring in and dump dogs and about 30 people for cats. That’s every day of the week.”
Not only has it been a problem for the Humane Society of Odessa but it’s been a problem throughout this part of the state.
“It is a huge West Texas problem,” Silvia said. “I’m sure there are other areas that have this issue but it is really bad here and the virus has made things worse because the amount of animals on the street is higher. People need to be educated and vaccinate their pets and keep up with those vaccinations as well.”
Silvia said that the Humane Society of Odessa is usually at maximum capacity which makes things even more challenging.
“As soon as one gets adopted, somebody dumps another one,” Silvia said. “It’s never ending.”
In the last week, Silvia estimates that over 20 animals have been dumped at the shelter.
“Some of them are litters,” Silvia said. “That’s like six right there and that adds up really quickly when they’re duping litters of puppies.”
Part of the reason has been due to the pandemic.
“There’s been a lot of people lose their jobs or move,” Silvia said. “The pets that they adopted, they can’t take them a lot of times so they just leave them or dump them and leave town. That leaves us to pick up and help them. It’s sad.”
One way to combat the problem has been to educate people to know what they’re getting themselves into when they rescue a pet.
“When you adopt a pet, it’s like adopting a child,” Taylor said.
Taylor says she’ll talk to those who are adopting a pet and explain to them that it’s a long-term commitment.
“If you think you’re not in the best living situation or that you might be going through something, maybe now is not the best time,” Taylor said. “If you do not think that this is something that’s going to be at least 10 years in the works for you, then you should wait and sleep on it.”
This is especially true for first-time pet owners.
“People who have never owned a pet, I would highly suggest dog sitting for a friend for a couple of days or even coming over here and volunteering for a few days,” Taylor said. “Just try to do a little bit of research. There are a lot of responsibilities. First-time pet owners, if they’re responsible and if they want to be responsible, they should do a little bit of research and ask a lot of questions. That makes me feel better.”
People can donate to the Humane Society of Odessa at https://tinyurl.com/4d4z62rs and click “donate”.
“We’re needing money to help pay our vet bills and get those down,” Silvia said. “They’re sky high because we have animals that are here every single day. 95 percent of them have something wrong. They either have a broke leg, or they have parvo and it’s sad. We’re not going to let them suffer so we’re going to take them to the vet. The vet bills keep rising and we don’t have donations coming in. we need the community to help us with donations so we can get our vet bills paid and to save more animals.”