A large volume of stray animals at Kanawha Charleston Humane Association's shelter has stretched resources thin. Now the shelter is asking the public for temporary help housing animals.
Monday evening, the shelter took in more than 30 dogs, putting a severe strain on resources, said Chelsea Staley, a volunteer at the shelter and one of the founders of Dog Bless, a rescue advocacy organization.
Stephanie Gomez, a shelter secretary and kennel attendant, said the facility was holding about 100 animals as of Tuesday afternoon.
The lack of available space has left the shelter in desperate need of foster homes for animals, many of which are waiting to be taken to new homes by other rescues outside West Virginia.
"Having foster homes makes or breaks a rescue," said Staley.
The shelter regularly sends animals to rescues and adoption agencies out of state, helping to alleviate West Virginia's problem with stray animals. Once a dog has been selected for adoption, it is released from the shelter and sent to a local foster home until it can be transported to the new rescue.
Staley said the foster system allows the shelter to free up room for new animals. Dogs stay in foster care a few days to two weeks.
"You're really saving two lives at once," she said.
The animals are often sent to rescues in the Northeast because states there have stricter spay and neuter laws than West Virginia. As a result, there are typically more available homes there as well.
"States in the South are much more overrun than the northeastern states," Staley said.
West Virginia only requires animals adopted from animal shelters to be spayed or neutered. If an animal is not spayed or neutered at adoption, a deposit must be paid. The deposit is refundable upon proof that the animal is spayed or neutered. Violators can be fined up to $250.
The state does not require spaying or neutering in other circumstances.
The result is too many animals, Staley said, and the shelter simply can't keep up.
"We just cannot pull that many," she said. "We can't do it without help."