‘We’re overwhelmed’: Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County beyond full capacity

TACOMA, Wash. — The Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County is dealing with what they describe as an “emergency” as the shelter reaches beyond full capacity.

In the last two weeks, leaders of the shelter said they have received more than 500 new animals.

“We have doubled and tripled kennel occupancy, and even set up temporary crates, yet we simply cannot keep up with the overwhelming number of animals entering our shelter. To continue to provide for animals in need, we’re turning to our community to help create life-saving space in our shelter,” said Leslie Dalzell, chief executive officer at the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County.

The organization is now waving adoption fees for adult dogs (two years and older), adult cats (six months and older) and all critters from June 12-16.

The shelter is caring for nearly 200 animals inside the building with nearly 350 animals in foster homes.

“We’re simply out of space. When I say we’re overwhelmed, we mean it. This is a huge strain on our resources,” said Lauren Green, marketing coordinator for the shelter.

As of Wednesday, the shelter was caring for more than 100 dogs inside the building with only 89 dog kennels available.

“We’re doubling even tripling kennel occupancy,” she said.

Green said she does not know the exact cause behind the recent influx of animals, but said the shelter accepts all animals, no matter what, since it’s one of the few open admission centers across the state.

She said the organization has recently welcomed lost pets and animals that were given up by their owners due to the cost of living.

“Folks who are facing a tough decision of whether they are able to keep their pet, whether it be for financial reasons because the cost of living is putting a strain on our community, we are happy to provide resources,” Green shared. “The space you create, you’re helping that life and you’re also creating space for another animal in need to enter our shelter. As an open admission shelter, once a kennel is cleared, it pretty quickly gets filled up again with an animal who really needs our help.”

KIRO 7 spoke with people who stopped by the shelter after learning about the shelter’s recent challenges.

“With the amount of dogs that came in is crazy,” said Connar Wint, who adopted a dog.

“Coming in here to the shelter is always hard to see all the animals and kind of see their sad faces. Makes me want to save them,” he said. “That’s why we’re here, get a friend for our dog and a new member of our family and give him the life that he deserves. Obviously, no animal deserves to be in a shelter for the rest of their life.”

Kennedy Wint said, “It’s really really really important to us. We rescued our previous dog too so we made it a point to rescue again.”

As of Wednesday, more than 35 pets have been adopted, officials said.

To view a list of all available pets at the shelter, please click here.

“When the community adopts from our shelter, it enables us to extend our services to animals in dire need who truly have no other options,” states Dalzell. “Additionally, community members can play an active role in reuniting lost pets with their families. A significant number of lost pets are found less than a mile from home, and many lost pets brought to shelters never make their way back to their families.”

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