BEND, OR -- The Humane Society of Central Oregon is filled with unclaimed dogs. Executive Director Lynne Ouchida says they weren't able to take in animals affected by the Alabama tornados, like other shelters in Oregon could, and they're needing to get creative about housing the pets who've been dropped off.
Ouchida says the situation is a result of several factors, "Unfortunately, it's partly the community. They are not coming in and reclaiming their dogs like they normally do. We normally have one of the highest rates of return to owners in the nation - we usually are around 85% of our dogs get returned to their owners. In February, it dropped down to 69%." She tells KBND News, "We have to add the snowstorm. We were closed for three days. And so, those people who were wanting to turn in an animal waited; and so then, when we opened up our doors, [there was] kind of a backlog of animals that all came in at once. So that also added to our dog kennels being full."
To help the southeast Bend shelter, Ouchida asks pet owners to help make sure animals can be quickly returned, "First and foremost, some of the basics - I.D. your pets, keep your pet safely on your property." And, she asks that you take steps to insure your pet doesn't escape, to begin with, "Clear the snow away from the edge of your fence line. Otherwise, you've created that step over the fence, for your dogs." If you've lost your pet, Ouchida suggests you call the shelter, even if you can't come right away to pick him up. Staff can make arrangements with you. And, if you are no longer able to care for your pet, releasing them to the shelter helps them more quickly find another loving home.