If it seems like there are more stray cats around than in years past, you’re right, according to officials with Juneau Animal Control & Protection.
“We’ve had a terrifically crazy year with animal intakes,” said Karen Wood, animal control director for the organization. The number of impounded cats increased 41%. The number of dogs surrendered increased by 65%, albeit the total number of dogs was much lower than cats. The recent numbers are from the fiscal year ending June 30.
In all, 234 cats were impounded in the most recent time period, up from 166 from the previous fiscal year. Owners retrieved 33 of those cats, which meant 201 cats “became our property,” Wood said. That doesn’t include cats surrendered by their owners, which rose more moderately, from 200 cats to 212 cats, over the same time period.
JAR saw a 65% increase in the number of dogs surrendered from 57 in fiscal 2022 to 94 in fiscal 2023. Impounded stray dogs increased from 135 dogs in fiscal 2022 to 154 in the most recent year.
An overall increase in pet intakes has been seen by animal welfare groups around the country. One frequently cited factor is fallout from COVID-19, when more people got pets. Shelter Animals Count, a national nonprofit that collects data on sheltered animals, reports a 7.6% increase in community intakes between January and June 2023, compared to the same period in 2021, said Emily Tolliver, a spokesperson for the organization.
Inflationary pressures and things like rent increases, which sometimes require people to move places that don’t allow pets, is also a factor, Wood said.
But Juneau has a unique contributing factor with a shortage in veterinarians. That meant people were not able to make appointments to spay and neuter cats, which led to more litters of kittens. It is better this year, Wood said.
Andy Nelson, the organization’s deputy director, said Monday there were 29 cats and nine dogs in Juneau Animal Rescue’s private nonprofit shelter on Glacier Highway, a number that didn’t include the pets in daycare or boarding facilities. It also didn’t include 23 cats in foster homes, which are volunteers caring for the pets in private homes until permanent places are found for the felines. There are also three dogs and three rabbits being fostered.
The shelter has numerous programs in place to help pet owners, including both daycare and boarding. It provides vaccines and microchip clinics, as well as spaying and neutering. They can help people experiencing financial issues with things like free pet food.
Visiting hours for anyone considering adoption are from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every day but Tuesday and Sunday. Nelson recommends applying online first, because it moves the process along quicker, although it isn’t necessary. It takes between 24 and 48 hours to receive approval. They also need dog walkers from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The shelter offers specials and can lower fees associated with adoptions, but at the same time it’s important that the pets go to homes that can afford them, Wood said.
• Contact Meredith Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org or (907) 615-3190.