HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. – The Humane Society for Hamilton County says it is “in crisis” as it struggles to manage an unprecedented number of surrendered dogs.

The group is running out of space to keep dogs in its new shelter that is only two years old. As each dog patiently waits for a new home, the Humane Society for Hamilton County  is hard at work caring for more than 190 other dogs, which President and CEO Rebecca Stevens said keeps growing.

“This has been a daily struggle and it’s been going on for about six months, and it’s getting worse,” Stevens said.

The facility is just two years old and is designed to comfortably hold enough dogs through at least 2036. Stevens said that no longer seems to be the case.

“With us being exactly two years into this and currently dealing with a capacity crisis situation, it’s definitely been unexpected and concerning,” she said.

The shelter has run out of available kennels for dogs, instead office spaces have now also turned into kennels as well.

“Normally we would just take them in another time,” Stevens described. “We don’t have that luxury. We’ve taken so many that we have no room at all left.”

That often includes dogs in any condition imaginable.

“We see animals that were hit by a car, that have some serious injuries of they could just be on the streets and been neglected without any food or water,” Director of Operations Gina Smolla said. “We see animals that are victims of abuse by their owners even sometimes.”

Stevens said part of the issue is the shelter is suddenly seeing a surge in dogs from outside Hamilton County.

“We’ve taken in double the number of Marion County residents/strays year to date as we did this time last year,” she said.
While Hamilton is an open admission shelter, Indianapolis Animal Care Services has a different policy, something Stevens believes may contribute to crowding in Hamilton County.

“They do have to make appointments for every animal intake, but stray appointments are scheduled within 48 hours,” said Indianapoilis Animal Care Services spokesperson Roxie Randall. “We try to offer crates for that time while they’re waiting for their appointment, or like food to them so they can hold onto them until we can bring them into the building.”

IACS said it too is also dealing with many of the same overcrowding issues. Stevens said shelters in central Indiana need to work together and figure out how to resolve this issue.

The Humane Society for Hamilton County says it is working with local leaders to try and resolve the issue. The group says that involves discussions about adjusting animal ordinances.