The Española Humane Society has been experiencing intermittent capacity issues and has been occasionally unable to accept feral cats throughout the past few weeks. Mattie Allen, director of communications at the shelter, explained what’s going on and how the public can help.

    “The past few weeks the shelter has been very full,” she said in an email. “We haven’t turned away social, adoptable cats, but when we are caring for a large number of feral cats, we ask people for patience when surrendering community cats.”

    The shelter has 40 cat and kitten kennels, 23 dog kennels and 8 puppy/small dog kennels. Often, multiple animals  are kept in a kennel if they get along. The shelter tries to keep 10 percent of its capacity available for animals brought in by various animal control agencies or for emergencies.

    “At any given time, that 10 percent can be filled, resulting in no available kennel space, which is why we work so hard to move pets into homes, either through adoptions or into foster care. Capacity is a constant ebb and flow as pets move into and out of the shelter,” Allen said.

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the shelter is currently closed to walk-in visitors, but community members who wish to surrender an animal can make an appointment, which is usually scheduled within a week. Injured or newly born animals are always accepted without appointment.

    There are several things residents can do to help the shelter and care for the community’s critters. People who find lost or stray dogs can receive supplies to care for the animal while the shelter finds the owner or makes room.

    Additionally, less than 2 percent of cats that are brought into the shelter get reunited with their families, according to Allen.

    “Many people believe if their cat does not come home, something happened to them and they don’t contact the shelter to see if the cat was brought in,” Allen said. “If your kitty or dog is missing, please email the shelter to file a lost report with photos and a description of your pet, name of your pet, and all of your contact information, and check our website to look for your pet’s photo.”

    People can also foster pets to help get animals out of the shelter and become more sociable. That increases their chances of adoption later on, and can benefit the foster family, too.

    “My own daughter has helped foster litters of puppies and kittens, injured homeless pets recovering from surgeries, brain injuries, and cancer,” Allen said. “Fostering has helped maintain our family’s sense of connection this year when we aren’t able to see friends or participate in community activities due to the pandemic.”

    And of course, spaying and neutering is always important.

    “Spaying and neutering pets is the single most important step to stem the tide of homeless pets,” Allen said. “Please consider spaying/neutering and returning community cats instead of surrendering them.”

    The shelter offers a free spay/neuter surgeries, and they can also implant a microchip and update vaccines.

        Adoption is always a way to take animals off the shelter’s hands. Otherwise unadoptable or semi-feral cats can be adopted as barn cats for no fee—just the commitment to provide food, water and shelter. In exchange, the cat will provide invaluable rodent control services.

    “Dogs and cats deserve a second chance at a new beginning. Please consider adopting a new family member,” Allen said.

    Anyone interested in fostering can apply at

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