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Local News

Extended Holding Period Creates Overcrowding at Santa Barbara County Animal Shelters

Animal Services, which has a noneuthanization policy, hopes the community will step up to help by adopting a pet

A symphony of barking and yipping from dogs wanting to play or go for a walk provides background music for Jan Glick, director of Santa Barbara County Animal Services, in her office at the animal shelter at 5473 Overpass Road in Goleta.

With nearly 110 dogs to only 44 kennels, it’s no surprise the noise is loud. Overcrowding of shelters is a large issue in the county, Glick said, and has prompted Public Health Department meetings — the most recent held last week — and local spay and neuter ordinances.

While Animal Services picks up strays and has an open-access policy to accept any animal brought to one of its shelters, Glick says increased intakes aren’t the reason for the overcrowding — it’s the extended holding period.

Animal intakes remain very high. In the 2009-2010 fiscal year, the Goleta shelter took in 2,766 animals while 1,570, or 56 percent, were adopted.

County shelters do not euthanize adoptable animals, but will hold them until they are adopted. It can result in prolonged stays at the shelters, serving Santa Barbara, Goleta and the South Coast. Other shelters are located in Lompoc and Santa Maria.

“Responsible pet ownership would be the key,” Glick said about preventing overcrowded, adding that it is illegal to let a pet run loose or without licensing and vaccination. Such violations result in the impounding of the animal.

The Goleta shelter works with DAWG, a Santa Barbara nonprofit no-kill shelter next door, the Santa Barbara Humane Society (also next door) and humane societies in Northern California, but overcrowding at county shelters remains a problem.

Glick said that although volunteering in local shelters and fostering dogs help the shelters and provide richer lives for the dogs, adoption is still the main solution.

“We are really looking to have the community step in and see what they can do to help us reduce our overcrowding,” she said. “It’s just not humane to keep the dogs in such crowded conditions. The first way to help would be if you have room in your home, come out and adopt a dog.”

How to Help

» Adopt a dog — Click here for more information about adopting a dog from a Santa Barbara County shelter. Click here for information about adopting at DAWG. Click here for information about the Santa Barbara Humane Society.

» Volunteer — With only 29 full-time staff members in all three county animal shelters, the Goleta shelter could use some help. Click here for more information about volunteering. Click here for information about getting involved at DAWG.

» More helpful links — Project PetSafe is an education and outreach campaign dedicated to increasing pet owner responsibility by promoting vaccination, licensing, spaying/neutering and microchipping. A licensing clinic for dogs will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Goleta Valley Community Center, 5679 Hollister Ave. K-9 Pals is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization working on behalf of abandoned dogs. Call 805.681.4369 for more information.

Noozhawk intern Erin Stone can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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