While summer may be a wonderful time of year for college students traveling home to see their families or visiting the beach with their friends, it holds a very different meaning for many animals in the Athens-Clarke County area.
Leah Trotter, Office Manager of the Athens Area Humane Society, names it as the season when the most animals are abandoned or lost. With the first official day of summer only days away, local animal shelters are preparing for the numbers of lost and abandoned animals to rise exponentially.
“Summer is definitely the season when you see the most animals abandoned. This is due to animals being left unaltered and having babies. Summer is also often referred to as ‘kitten season’ because there are so many kittens being born, and they seem to be popping up all over the place. This leaves many people feeling helpless and turning kittens over to animal control,” Trotter said. “There are just as many puppies being born during summer as well and animal control tends to become very overcrowded. So while kitten season may sound cute, it is actually a very scary and dangerous time for so many animals.”
Nadine Cohen, a volunteer with Athenspets, a partner of the Athens-Clarke County Animal Control Center dedicated to finding animals permanent homes, agreed with Trotter’s sentiments.
“Things slowdown in the summer,” she said. “You would think that they would pick up because people have more free time in the summer to get a pet, but it’s actually the opposite. The numbers of dogs slow down for rescues and we get many more puppies than usual.”
Both women seem to believe, however, that peak seasons for dog adoption and abandonment relate directly with seasons of activity at the University of Georgia, rather than with seasonal weather patterns.
“People have plans in the summer. Students leave. I have seen it happen where students have to abandon their pets because their parents don’t want them to keep them at home for the summer,” Cohen said. “It’s a really sad situation.”
Likewise, adoptions and volunteer hours seem to pick up when university students return to school in the fall. “Lots of students adopt dogs when they come to school and move out on their own. They also spend a lot of time volunteering. Our organization relies a lot on the help of the university,” she said.
As a student or Athens-resident, the community can help alleviate the burden placed on shelters this summer and to help protect furbabies from the elements – whether it be the one in your living room snuggled up to your leg or the one you see walking around your neighborhood at night.
Be sure you are ready for the responsibility of having a pet before you get one.
While having an adorable, furry friend to cuddle with on a lonely Netflix night might sound tempting, be sure you are ready for the responsibility that comes with getting a pet. Pets are very much like children and need around-the-clock care. By taking in an animal, you are promising to show it care and provide it with what it needs to survive, and that means feeding and walking – as well as less-appealing tasks like poop-cleaning and potty training – not just showering it with affection during the days before its novelty has worn off.
If you are unsure about getting a pet, try fostering!
According to Trotter, students can help during peak abandonment seasons by becoming foster parents. This helps animal rescues get at risk animals out of animal control. If you cannot have a pet in your life or if you are unsure if a pet would be right for you, fostering might be the right option! You do not have the worries of keeping a dog long-term, but you are responsible for socializing them, playing with them, and keeping them safe.
Spay or neuter your pets and encourage your friends and family members to do the same!
One of the biggest problems that animal shelters and animal control organizations face is overpopulation. Approximately 2.4 million cats and dogs are euthanized each year in U.S. shelters, according to the Humane Society of the United States’ website, and a large majority of these animals are put down in order to maintain a population that can feasibly be provided for by workers. Don’t be dismayed by the potential cost of spay or neuter operations! The Humane Society and the University of Georgia’s Veterinary Clinic provide cost effective ways of providing for your pets.
Volunteer at local animal shelters or control centers.
While many may think that working at an animal shelter or control center could become disheartening, a 15-year-old volunteer of the Athens-Clarke County Animal Control Center said, “The shelter isn’t a depressing place. About 95% of the dogs here are playful and happy. They want to spend time with people.”
Volunteering also aids in maintaining feasible population size – one more set of hands could save an animal in need.
Be wary of overheating.
Once you have a pet of your own it can be tempting, particularly in the sunny weather, to take your dog for a day out at the dog park. You should do this! However, be sure that you are watching your dog carefully in these hot weather situations. If they begin to pant excessively, drool, or show signs of stupor, your pet could be overheating which in extreme cases can lead to vomiting, collapse, hearth diseases and death. If you suspect your dog may be overheating it is wise to bring them inside, give them water and lightly coat the pads of their feet in water or rubbing alcohol. If this does not help seek emergency attention as soon as possible!
Interested in volunteering, adopting, or fostering? Information can be found at the following websites: