Summer’s busiest time for animal shelters

Published 1:04 am Saturday, June 23, 2018

Opp’s animal pound is currently at capacity, but Debbie Walker says thanks to help from surrounding shelters, most of the animals will be adopted.

Walker, the owner and veterinarian at Walker Veterinary Services, provides pound services on a contract basis with the City of Opp, which reimburses Walker for seven days of sheltering per animal.

After that, the veterinary practice absorbs the cost of the animal’s stay and care.

“I never know when our pound will get crowded,” Walker said.

“It’s hit or miss. Some days we will have nothing brought in from animal control, others there can be five in one day.”

At the pound, there are 19 cages for the animals.

“We do our absolute best to not ever euthanize, we do our best with posting the pictures of them on social media and other shelters will help us out and take them in,” she said.

Walker said because the Andalusia Area Humane Society is a 501(c)(3) organization, they receive broken bags of food and kitty litter from Wal-Mart.

“We’re very fortunate too, because we can get help from the Andalusia Humane Society where they give us dog food. Sometimes it gets to the point where we are paying out of pocket.”

Some animals have been there for months.

Walker said that most of the animals brought in are from unexpected litters.

“Strays, if not fixed, are just wandering and breeding,” Walker said.

“And it doesn’t just create more animals, it spreads diseases.”

Walker said there are two reasons pounds fill up.

“The first reason is people not being responsible pet owners, as in, surrendering their pets to the pound because they became ‘too difficult’,” she said. “I think a lot of people don’t understand having a pet is a privilege and a responsibility.”

But for the most part, animals are brought in because of Opp’s leash law.

“People will call into the city that there is a dog wandering and they are brought here,” Walker said.

Walker said that if they run out of space within their cages, she brings cages from home.

At the Andalusia Animal Shelter, if the animal is aggressive or if the pound is over capacity and the animal hasn’t been adopted after several months, they will have to euthanize it.

Animal care coordinator, Kayla Cleland, said that she doesn’t have to do it often.

“I’ve sent some of our animals all over the United States to other rescues,” she said.

“Because of Instagram, I’ve even had people come from as far as Maryland to rescue an animal we had.”

Cleland says that there is definitely a specific time for more numbers within the shelter.

“The summer is way worse than the winter,” she said.

“Mainly because everyone who adopted or went out and bought a ‘Christmas puppy’ found out they couldn’t maintain or care for it the way it needs, will drop it off.”

What Cleland means by ‘Christmas puppy’ is a dog that a family bought for a Christmas present.

“They’re all cute when they’re puppies, but when they get a little older their bad habits show and some people don’t have the time or patience to teach the animal,” she said.

“You’d be surprised at how many full blooded dogs we get in our shelter.”

According to, around 25 percent of purebred dogs end up in shelters.

“I’ve seen purebred Great Danes and German Shepherds in shelters just because an owner can’t deal with the high energy,” Cleland said.

Cleland also said that’s why animals from the pound must get spayed or neutered.

Cleland says the shelter usually will do what they can to get the animals adopted before turning to euthanization.