Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 23, 2013

Mercer animal shelter has limited space as spring litters start filling up cages

By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — Click here for video.

Employees and volunteers at the Mercer County Animal Shelter said Monday they are seeing the beginnings of the spring litter season with a number of pregnant cats and dogs being turned in by owners.

Shelter Director Lisa Williams said several pregnant mothers and litters have come in so far, but shelter employees believe the litter season has yet to peak.

“Believe it or not, they aren’t excessive yet, but we are expecting them to come in about any time now,” Williams said. “Usually, we get in more than the shelter can hold. We already have five moms that have had babies and four to five more that are pregnant.”

Williams said often times owners turn in their pregnant pets rather to avoid dealing with caring for puppies or kittens.

“They bring them into the shelter instead,” Williams said. “We can’t let the puppies or kittens go until they have been spayed or neutered. We also try to give mom enough time to recover so she can be spayed and hopefully will not come back into the shelter pregnant with another litter.”

Since litters require a lot of care and space, Williams said new litters mean the shelter cannot take in other animals to adopt out.

“The bad thing about this is none of the puppies or kittens can be adopted out until they are eight weeks old and mom has to stay with them for that time period to care for them,” she said. “It sometimes means we can’t take in more animals until we can get out what we already have.”

Williams said litters also put a premium on cage space at the shelter.

“We only have so many big cages, but we have to put the moms and babies together,” Williams said. “After you add blankets, bowls and water dishes they have to go in a big cage because there is no space in our smaller cages.”

When the eight-week waiting period is up and the animals are ready for adoption, Williams said it is often hard to get the mother cat or dog adopted out.

“A lot of people want the kitten or the puppy before they’ll take the full-grown dog or cat,” she said.

Williams said Mercer County residents can help the spring population boom by taking care of their pets.

“This is why it’s really important that people do neuter or spay their pets,” she said. “If you don’t want to neuter or spay your animal, make sure you keep them up and away from other animals so they don’t make unwanted kittens and puppies.”

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com