Animal control and pet rescue populations are growing at alarming rates in Tuolumne County and the Golden State due to rising cost of living, changes in people’s routines since the pandemic COVID-19 has eased and more people are returning to work, the county’s director of Animal Control and the founder of a leading nonprofit rescue organization said this week.
“Right now, at this point, we’ve taken in over 300 more animals than last year,” Mike Mazouch, director of Tuolumne County Animal Control, told the county board of supervisors at a town hall meeting Tuesday. . “It’s a growing trend that’s happening with the socio-economic issues that people are facing. Our population has increased by 300 people more than last year at the same time. I did these stats for June, so it’s even bigger now.
Mazouch said Wednesday the actual total was “nearly 400 more than this time last year” and added that the county’s animal control population was growing in part because shelters in other counties were experiencing a surge. overcrowding throughout the state.
Many counties have issued an SOS for help, and Tuolumne County is housing animals for Sacramento County and Stanislaus County, Mazouch said.
Mazouch and Darlene Mathews, founder and director of nonprofit Friends of the Animal Community, allowed the Democratic Union to visit their facilities outside Jamestown and off Mono Way to take photos on Wednesday.
At Tuolumne County Animal Control, employee Breena Rains showed off more than a dozen dogs in the main kennel area, where agency staff normally prefer to house half that number of dogs. They prefer to keep about half of the waiting areas vacant so they can change the dogs into clean spaces every morning, “but we keep getting more and more surrenders,” Rains said.
Rains said she’s been working there since 2018 and “this year has been crazy for so many surrenders” of unwanted and stray animals. She added: “I’ve never seen us so honestly.”
Veterinary tech Christina Whitcomb said she has worked for Tuolumne County Animal Control for more than seven years and has never seen a cat season like this most recent spring and summer. .
“I’ve seen so many stray cats and kittens,” Whitcomb said. “It indicates that people do not sterilize and do not sterilize. Tuolumne County does not have a low-cost sterilization clinic. I don’t blame the local vets for their prices as they have to run their businesses, and the costs of animal medications during COVID have tripled.
More cats are being turned over to Tuolumne County Animal Control, and some people who leave the county are leaving colonies of cats behind, Whitcomb said.
She pointed to a sign on a door that read “Panleukopenia Outbreak!” and “No pet cats or kittens in this room!” and “Do not touch cats or kittens unless cleaning” and “Do not show cats for adoption”.
Scientists say that feline panleukopenia is a highly contagious viral disease of cats caused by feline parvovirus. Kittens are the most seriously affected by the virus.
“That’s what happens when people can’t afford vaccines,” Whitcomb said. “Some of it comes from colonies of unvaccinated cats. It can be deadly for kittens.
She introduced a cat named Dur Fur, a recent shed who was vaccinated against panleukopenia, rabies and other issues. She and her colleague Chante Hughes showed how crowded one of the chat rooms was at Tuolumne County Animal Control on Wednesday.
“Almost all the cages here are full,” Whitcomb said. “All of these will be full by the end of today.”
Whitcomb said Northside Pet Connection, a nonprofit that helps cats and dogs in Lake Don Pedro, Coulterville, Groveland, Big Oak Flat and Greeley Hill, helped Tuolumne County Animal Control transfer more than 150 casts and kittens out of state.
“Without that, I would say 75% of them would have been euthanized,” Whitcomb said. “Without outside help, we would also have had to euthanize many more dogs. Friends of the Animal Community and the Calaveras Humane Society help us transfer dogs out of state, which helps us reduce euthanasia. Unfortunately, this is the harsh reality. Animal Control is simply the product of people’s irresponsibility.
The bad thing, Mazouch said, is that Tuolumne County Animal Control is dealing with hundreds more animals this year than last. The good news is that the agency has adopted more animals in the past three months than ever before.
“To have the public come out bringing us food and supplies for our pet pantry, for those less fortunate, right now is amazing,” Mazouch said. “We have a full supply room right now, and that’s great because we’re seeing high demand right now.”
Mazouch pointed out that his staff work hard and achieve a lot in the face of significant challenges – while their agency is 28% understaffed. Nearly a third of the county’s animal control stations cannot be filled. All of the recent work County Animal Control has done has been on a substantial staffing gap, Mazouch said.
When asked if Friends of the Animal Community had noted a similar increase in the number of cats and dogs being reported as strays and brought to the nonprofit, Mathews replied on Wednesday, “Absolutely, 100%.
“We have more animals and more calls than ever before,” she said. “I think it’s multiple factors: cost of living, COVID, people are back to work now.”
Every little bit helps save the lives of cats, dogs and other pets, Mathews said.
“We need foster families to come forward and take in dogs and cats from shelters and Animal Control,” Mathews said. “Foster families are people who take dogs or cats into their homes as if they were their own pets and keep them while we try to find permanent adoptive homes for the foster animals. ‘welcome.”
Friends of the Animal Community is an all-volunteer organization that depends on donations, Mathews said.
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