For 19-year-old Fort Worth resident Greyson Brooks Perkins, adopting a Labrador retriever, Kona, was a no-brainer.

“I saw this dog just kind of running around and then some lady said she doesn’t have an owner and that she was sweet and friendly,” Perkins said. “I went up to her, and she immediately flopped on her back for belly rubs. She had fleas all over her.”

Kona is a labrador retriever. (Greyson Brooks Perkins)

After an unsuccessful search for the stray dog’s owners, Perkins took care of her needs: He got the pet food, water, shelter and he took her to a veterinarian and got her flea medicine.

Kona is far from the only pet in need of a home. Tarrant County clinics are seeing an overwhelming number of animal intakes and strays compared with 2020. The high number of intakes and strays in 2021 is forcing some clinics to waive their normal fees for adoption.

Intake rates returning to pre-pandemic numbers

PetPoint reported a 60.5% increase in dog intakes from April 2020 to this April. Still, fewer intakes were reported in 2021 than in 2019. Organizations like the Humane Society of North Texas have made efforts to increase adoptions, yet shelters are overwhelmed.

“There is an increase in the intake, but the data that we have in intakes is that people are not surrendering because they lost a job or can’t find a job,” Cassie Davidson, the director of communications at the Humane Society of North Texas, said. “We are in the midst of puppy and kitten season. So, that is our biggest obstacle right now. We have loads and loads of puppies and kittens coming in.”

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In Fort Worth so far this year, there have been 4,824 spay and neuter surgeries on stray animals, more than 1,200 more when compared to 2020, according to the city’s May 2021 Animal Care & Control code report.  

Part of the Humane Society of North Texas’ efforts to increase adoptions includes off-site adoption and vaccination clinics in the city. The organization reported 3,182 adoptions in the first quarter of 2021.

By the numbers

  • April 2021 dog intakes up 60.5% compared to April 2020. 
  • April 2019 had 19,576 more dogs taken in than in April 2021.
  • 2,283 fewer animals were adopted in 2020 than in 2019
  • 3,182 adoptions from January 2021 to May 2021, the Humane Society of North Texas reported.

The Humane Society of North Texas hosts off-site adoption centers at Petco and PetSmart, where they see as many adoptions in one weekend as they see in four days at its four organization shelters.

Perkins theorized Kona was dumped by an owner who could not care for her. Kona had a chip in her, Perkins said. 

“We tried to look for the owners. We didn’t want some poor kid to be crying that their dog ran away, and my parents looked all over Facebook, and I posted on Reddit,” he said. 

After the search for the owner was unsuccessful, Perkins decided to keep Kona as his own. 

“She has really bad separation anxiety,” Perkins said. “She has a problem with whining and barking when someone leaves. Every time I would walk five feet away she would start barking.”

Luna, a German shepherd found on the side of the road, was taken in by Elena Olalde, 20, and her family. Olalde said Luna did not seem to be abused, but she was malnourished when they took her in. (Elena Olalde)

‘A pet versus just an animal’

Elena Olalde, 20, received a call from her cousin after she found three dogs on the side of the road in the middle of a hot July day last year. She suspects that the previous owner neglected the puppies.

“There is a difference between treating your dog like a pet versus just an animal,” she said. “If you have that mentality, the dog feels neglected. I feel like those dogs are neglected. They get what they need but no one cares for them.”

Olalde took one of the dogs and named her ner Luna. The dog is a part of their family now, but she was a lot to handle, initially, Olalde said.

Although Olalde wants people to get a pet, she is worried about the animals facing neglect in the city. She does not like it when people leave their dogs outside all day.

“No one takes care of them (dogs left outside with no water or shelter). They’re just kind of there,” Olalde said. “At least forfeit your right to own them so that someone else can take care of them. You’re not taking responsibility for your pet.”

In Texas and beyond

  • The Humane Society of North Texas aided the Hill County Sheriff’s Office in removing 50 dogs from unsustainable living conditions in April, the organization said in its press release.
  • In June, Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed SB 474, a bill that would make it a Class C misdemeanor to leave dogs outside without water and shelter.

Following the implementation of mobile adoption clinics, New York City saw an increase of 2,398 pets adopted or transferred to outside organizations from 2013 to 2014.

If you go

The Humane Society of North Texas is hosting a Bully-Love Adoption Event the entire month of June where “all pitbull or pitbull mixes ages 6 months and older are $10 to adopt in hopes of producing more space for incoming dogs.”

The organization will be partnering with the City of Fort Worth to host the MEGA Adoption Event with over 1,000 adoptions on July 24-25 at the Amon G. Carter Jr. Exhibit Hall.

Cristian ArguetaSoto is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at cristian.arguetasoto@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter.

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Cristian ArguetaSoto

Cristian ArguetaSoto is a photojournalist for the Fort Worth Report. His position is supported by grants from the Amon G. Carter and Sid W. Richardson foundations. He can be reached at cristian.arguetasoto@fortworthreport.org...

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