Central Texas animal shelters experience overcapacity, staff shortages

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CENTRAL TEXAS (KXAN) — A combination of COVID-19 cases and staffing shortages are causing trouble for animal shelters throughout Central Texas.

The Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter announced it had to partially shutdown until the new year, while the Austin Animal Center announced Wednesday it’s experiencing “critical capacity” levels.

“This year, it’s been incoming animals all year round,” said Kelsey Cler, AAC’s animal shelter programs manager.

Resources are currently strained at AAC as Cooper, Tiva, Benny and Dunkin keep an eye out for their future companions.

“We normally have over 100 employees, and we currently have 15 to 16 openings,” Cler said.

The center is overcapacity by 150 animals, many of them medium to large dogs. This year, more than 16% of the shelter’s intake had to be transferred to external shelters due to overcrowding.

“This holiday season has been unlike any other. We have experienced overcapacity with our medium and large dogs,” said Misty Valenta, WCRAS’ director.

She said things at the county’s regional shelter aren’t much better. The shelter has 30 additional animals above the level staff can handle. This also comes amid COVID-19 diagnoses and exposures among staff.

“We have eight vacancies, four out due to the exposure and a couple out due to illness,” Valenta said.

The Williamson County shelter has two lobbies. The shelter had to shutdown its service center where people can bring in lost animals or surrender a pet. Calls are still going out to animal control officers to brings pets in when necessary.

“If you have a lost animal, take part in our reunite program,” said Valenta. “Help that animal get back home. They’re usually about two minutes or less from their home.”

Valenta said most vet clinics will scan a microchip, or owners can easily post the lost animal on any social media pages.

The adoption center remains open at the Williamson County shelter for you and your future furry friend.

Austin Pets Alive! Pawjama Pawty
Austin Pets Alive! Pawjama Pawty

AAC is open for adoptions Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. as well as Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will be closed on New Year’s Day.

Meanwhile, for those looking to find their own forever friend, Austin Pets Alive! is hosting a ‘Pawjama’ adoption party Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at its TLAC and Tarrytown locations.

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