Improper animal surrender continues to be a problem for overcrowded shelter

Local News

"How to best help that animal is not leaving it at an overcrowded shelter.”

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) – The Humane Society of Harlingen is finding abandoned animals outside its shelter daily. 

While well-meaning people may be leaving animals outside the shelter hoping that an employee will get to the animal and care for it, it is putting yet another burden on an already stressed-out system.  

Lately, Humane Society of Harlingen Executive Director Luis Quintanilla said there has been an increase in animals they find outside the shelter.  

“It’s kitten season,” said Quintanilla as he explained how they went from an almost empty shelter to one where they are over capacity.  

In April, ValleyCentral spoke to the humane society about this same issue, and it has only gotten worse. 

“In the last two weeks it’s been at least 30 to 40 animals that have been abandoned outside of our shelter door,” he said.  

On Monday morning, staff at the shelter found an empty box of kittens outside their doors, with a not explaining that the owners could not care for them.

After fearing the worst, they found three kittens hiding in a broken down emergency generator.

The staff does not know how many kittens were dropped off but hope those three were the only ones.

Getting lost is just one of the many dangers animals face when they are abandoned at the shelter, next to succumbing to the heat or other animals.

Quintanilla said the team has been proactive at finding fosters for the cats they find outside, but the whole situation can be avoided.  

The Humane Society is only responsible for taking in animals from the city animal control, but do their best to work with the public. Usually in by asking what the person needs for the animal and providing it.  

It is easier for the shelter to provide food or formula for animals than to try to make space in the shelter.  

“We want to take in all of these animals, we wish we could, but we simply have no space,” said Quintanilla.  

 The root of the issue is the inability to keep with spay and neuter demands, and it is a problem around the Valley, not just in Harlingen.  

The climate we have in south Texas serves animals for year-round breeding; every time the shelter is almost cleared, they know to expect another influx.  

Quintanilla said they rely on relief vets from outside the Valley to help with spaying and neutering once a month, but he said even if they did it every day, there would be no end to the waiting list.  

Furthermore, Quintanilla believes that people’s mentalities surrounding shelters must change. 

As the shelter works towards continuing its no-kill streak, it asks that the public work with them and help come up with solutions for caring for the animal.

“We can’t do it on our own,” said Quintanilla. “For too long, animal shelters across the country, it’s not unique to the Valley, animal shelters were put in the corner of the city or some back lot of a property and it was thought of as a place where, ‘oh I just go there to dump the animal because I don’t have time, I don’t want to deal with it.’ And sometimes its people with the best intentions that don’t know how to best help that animal and how to best help that animal is not leaving it at an overcrowded shelter.” 

If you are needing to surrender an animal, the Human Society can provide help so that you can care for the animal instead of leaving it with them.  

To make an appointment, you can call (956) 425-7297. 

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