As of Wednesday afternoon, the no-kill shelter had 169 dogs forcing staffers to set up kennels anywhere they can find a spot. Comfortably, the shelter can house 125 dogs.
TAVARES — The Lake County Animal Shelter is beyond capacity.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the no-kill shelter had 322 animals: 169 dogs and 148 cats, two pigs, a horse, five fish and a crawfish.
With the number of dogs, shelter staff is getting creative and setting up kennels wherever they can.
“We are committed to finding a safe and appropriate outcome for every animal," said shelter director Whitney Boylston. "That doesn’t change when we’re at capacity; we just have to work a lot harder to make that happen.”
Boylston is hoping the shelter’s free adoption event this weekend will help relieve some of the pressure. The shelter is hosting a Clear the Shelters drive on Saturday and Sunday.
Clear the Shelters is a nationwide movement. NBC and Telemundo-owned stations are partnering with shelters all over the country for adoption events like the one at the LCAS. Since 2015, more than 250,000 pets have found homes through these events.
"We definitely need the community to come out and see us," Boylston said. "We have free food, free goody bags and the best dogs in Central Florida."
In an interview, Boylston talked more about the shelter's predicament and the weekend's event.
What is the shelter's maximum capacity?
“We have comfortable space for probably 125 dogs so we are very, very full,” Boylston said. “I have four dogs in my office, two dogs in the vet’s office. I have a dog in each one of my tech’s offices. A dog behind the front desk, three dogs in the lobby. It’s literally anywhere we can pop up a kennel to make space for the dogs.”
Why is the Lake County Animal Shelter at capacity?
"Couple of things," Boylston said. "When we have a very stormy time — it’s been really heavy weather lately — a lot of pets get lost. They’re scared of the thunder. Also, adoptions are always down the first week of school. Families are getting ready to get their kids back. And visitation is down when the weather isn’t good. It’s been a little bit slower here for the past couple weeks."
How are the intake numbers comparing to this time last year?
"In the first two weeks of August, we took in 120 dogs in 2018 and 128 dogs in 2019," Boylston said. "It’s basically the same; the difference is our adoptions. We’ve only adopted out 59 dogs, which to say we’ve only adopted out 59 is crazy, that’s still a lot of dogs to adopt out in two weeks. Whereas last year we had adopted out 85. That’s where the difference is: They’re coming in but they’re not getting adopted as quickly."
When was the last time the shelter had this many dogs?
"We have not hit 170 dogs since Hurricane Irma," Boylston said. "This capacity level is much more than we have seen. The dogs keep coming in every time we turn around. We’ve reached out to our rescue partners and are hoping we can receive some assistance, but we are being told that they’re full, too. It’s just a difficult time of year."
What are the details on the shelter's event?
The shelter is offering free adoptions Saturday and Sunday. It's open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Adoptive families get a free goody bag. And the shelter will give out free hot dogs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
What does an LCAS adoption include?
Sterilization, vaccinations, basic vetting and a microchip.