Pet overpopulation a growing problem in city
By Donna Hill
For The Fort BendStar
With the shelter currently over capacity, and with the growth of Sugar Land bringing in new animals, it looks like the population of pets is growing along with the city. A presentation was made to the City of Sugar Land in June, with the possibility of either having a new shelter built, or expanding the existing 4,300-square-foot facility at 101 Gillingham Lane.
Sugar Land City Council will discuss the expansion proposals at a later date.
“We are growing and we are proactive about that,” said Kathryn Ketchum, Sugar Land Animal Services Manager. “We hope to go and look at sites that the city already owns to build a new location, or if we choose to move, is there land available. We are looking at several options, including our current site, and also off our current site. Currently the shelter has 40 dogs including puppies. The capacity for them is only 24. And there are 94 cats, including kittens. Their capacity is for 27.”
Adoptions are growing, too. As of 2015, there were over 750 animals that found new homes. That’s a lot of growth. While there are still more animals needing homes, Ketchum stresses the need for responsibility from all new and future pet owners.
“We also want pet owners to be responsible and spay and neuter their pets, along with keeping their pets healthy with immunizations, and prevention is key to keeping pets safe and healthy,” Ketchum said.
Rabies has no cure, so a yearly vaccine is important… Especially if the pet is in contact with wildlife – it’s the law. Along with rabies, heart worm is totally preventable with a vaccine.”
Ketchum said those with a new pet who need to have him or her spayed and neutered, the first step is to visit a vet. She said adopters shouldn’t let finances keep them from taking care of their new furry family member. SNAP (Spay-Neuter Assistance Program) is a non-profit agency that helps raise awareness of the problem of animal overpopulation and educates the public about spaying and neutering.
Their clinics provide free and reduced-cost spaying and neutering for cats and dogs. SNAP clinics will also offer extensive animal wellness services to keep animals from getting preventable diseases. The clinic serves Houston and the surrounding areas. For more information, visit www.snapus.org.
To adopt a pet, one can go to the shelter in Sugar Land or stop by PetSmart, who teams up with Petopia, a part of the Sugar Land Animal Services team.
Together they host regular weekend adoption events, finding homes for stray and impounded animals coming through the animal services division.
Ketchum noted that at the event, people can adopt a canine for $55, a feline for $40 until Sept. 17. They are spayed or neutered and have their shots.
The animal adoption events are held every weekend at the PetSmart at 16758 Southwest Freeway in Sugar Land. Cats are housed there seven days a week and dogs are there on weekends.
The adoption policy at Sugar Land Animal Services offers a unique way to get into the adoption door. While they don’t offer straight out adoptions at the facility, they do have what they call a “sleepover” program. If a potential adoptive parent comes in and finds a cat or dog they like, they can take the animal home for a sleepover to see if the relationship is a perfect fit. The pet stays in the home for a few days. If the pet is a fit, the adoption can be completed at the Sugar Land Animal Services location. If the animal is not a perfect fit, it can be returned.
If adoption isn’t in your future, the shelter could still use help.
According to Ketchum, “All kennels are full and volunteers are always needed. We need volunteers to take phone calls, clean and feed the animals, to sit with the animals at the shelter, just to offer one-on-one interaction, like brushing them, taking them for walks. Our staff can’t always provide these services, and that’s when volunteers are so important.”
For more information, contact www.sugarlandpetopia.org, volunteer.sugarlandtx.gov or www.petsmartcharities.org.