6 min read

200 Dogs And Cats Were Just Abandoned At This Shelter In A Single Weekend

They're working desperately to save them all — and need the public's help ❤️️💪

When the Harris County Animal Shelter in Houston, Texas, opened its doors on Friday morning, nobody could have anticipated what that holiday weekend had in store.

Within just a few hours, 100 animals had been surrendered to the shelter — an enormous number for a facility that can comfortably hold 150 homeless animals at a time.

On Saturday and Sunday, another 100 abandoned and stray animals entered the shelter, marking the highest total intake of animals so far this year.

kittens for adoption at Houston animal shelter
Harris County Animal Shelter

The shelter closed on Monday for Memorial Day, but that didn’t mean the animals stopped coming. On Tuesday, even more dogs and cats continued to pour in — one dog was even abandoned in the parking lot.

By Tuesday, shelter workers found themselves caring for a whopping 375 abandoned pets, all in need of homes.

“When I checked the very first thing this morning, we were at 407 animals that are available for adoption,” Kerry McKeel, the shelter’s media specialist, told The Dodo on Wednesday. “That’s not including all the animals we currently have in foster care or in our transport section [animals that will be moved to another adoption facility] of the shelter.”

On Tuesday, the shelter posted a 10-minute video to Facebook along with a plea for help. In the video, the camera moves through the halls, showing the many dogs and cats stuck in cramped cages, face after sweet furry face poking through the chain-link enclosures inquisitively.

While this time of year is usually busy for all rescue organizations, the number of animals that were left at the Harris County shelter is unprecedented in its history — and still growing.

“Summertime is always busy in Texas, and Houston in particular; we always see our highest influx of animals in June, July and August,” McKeel said. “We have a longer breeding season, so we receive a lot of puppies, kittens and pregnant moms.”

Dogs available for adoption
Harris County Animal Shelter

It’s uncertain why this holiday weekend in particular prompted such an influx of abandoned animals, but McKeel believes it may be related to the area’s slow recovery from Hurricane Harvey.

“Some of the feedback we’ve been getting is that people have had ‘lifestyle changes,’” McKeel said. “It’s hard to pinpoint it specifically being Harvey-related, but we do know that a lot of people’s lives have been flipped upside down because of Harvey — they’re moving into rental facilities where their landlords no longer allow pets, they’re moving out of town and can’t take their animal, they can’t board their animal because resources have to be diverted elsewhere.”

Harris County Animal Shelter

Foster families and transport programs that transfer animals to out-of-state adoption partners are helping to take the pressure off the shelter, but help is still needed.

“Even fostering an animal for two weeks can make a lifesaving difference,” McKeel added.

A pregnant dogs abandoned at Harris County Animal Shelter
A pregnant Lab snuggles up to a shelter worker | Harris County Animal Shelter

Now the focus is on doing everything possible for these hundreds of animals in need.

“Everyone was overwhelmed at first, but I think we have a plan in place, and now we’re in action mode,” McKeel said. “We’re trying to get as many of these animals into homes as possible, and give them a second chance.”

To help the animals of Harris County Animal Shelter, you can sign up to volunteer or foster. You can make a donation of pet supplies to the animals in need here.