Anderson shelter director urges fines for neglectful pet owners
The director of an overcrowded animal shelter calls the situation desperate. Hundreds of animals have been abandoned by their owners and most of them haven't been spayed or neutered.
Some say the pets' owners should be fined for that.
The Animal Protection League in Anderson is overwhelmed. Offices are crammed with crates, there's more overflow in the lobby. In the back, animals are stacked from floor to ceiling.
"They're bringing in kittens by the basketfuls, trash cans, buckets, boxes, you name it," said Animal Protection League's Executive Director, Maleah Stringer. "It's to the point now where we're really full. We don't have a lot of options right now."
The shelter cannot turn animals away. Sometimes, it receives 25 cats in a day. Since early June, 270 pets have been brought in. The facility that technically holds 200 is now caring for more than 400 animals.
The director blames irresponsible owners.
"It's easy for them to drop them off and walk away," Stringer says. "They want to think that they bring them here that they all get adopted and live happily ever after and that's not the case."
Instead, severe overcrowding has forced some pets, not adopted or too sick to save, to be put down.
"When there is nowhere for them to go and you're not willing to take them in your home, sometimes it doesn't feel like we have an option. It is our last resort," Stringer said.
One of the biggest problems she's seen - some of these animals have been abused. Most of them have not been spayed or neutered, which creates a dangerous cycle.
Stringer is now pushing for fines if people don't spay or neuter their pets. She's also working with Madison County to create stricter laws for animal neglect and abuse.
"If nothing happens, then that sends the message to the rest of the community that number one, animals are not important, don't matter and that nothing's going to happen to you," Stringer said.
She hopes punishment would protect the pets and keep so many from ending up in the shelter, instead of loving homes.
The Animal Protection League will work with pet owners if the cost of spay/neuter is too high.
To help ease overcrowding there, you can foster or adopt an animal or volunteer your time.