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Local pet shelters fight to combat animal overpopulation

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – With recent cases of animal neglect, hoarding and abuse, the welfare of our companion pets seem to have become an issue. Here in Rochester, the overpopulation of animals has overwhelmed the city’s shelters.

At Saturday’s Paws for Chili event, the focus was on raising awareness for homeless animals. Money raised goes to Camp Companion’s animal rescue efforts and Evergreen Cat Sanctuary.

“It’s also to be an educational experience for kids about animals. We want them to be compassionate in our world,” said Camp Companion director Michele Quandt.

While people had fun eating and socializing, they also learned about Rochester’s problem of animal overpopulation.

“The prime problem is that still owners do not spay or neuter,” said Dona Fisher, director of Safe Haven Pet Rescue.

While there are homeless dogs, the real problem is cats, who are being abandoned at a much higher rate.

“Dogs don’t seem to be as throwaway as cats are in our society,” Quandt said. “Unfortunately for cats, people seem to get them and not feel a lifetime commitment to them.”

While Camp Companion does not have the resources for all the homeless cats, they do practice a spay, neuter and release policy to keep the numbers under control.

“I think if you ask any shelter right now, they’re full,” said Quandt. “We have to turn cats away because we don’t have the capacity to help everyone. Our efforts are to prevent future generations of homeless animals from being born.”

The animal shelters in Rochester and across southern Minnesota work together to try to find spaces for animals, especially when rescuing animals in cases of hoarding.

“When there are many, there’s no single organization that can take them all,” Fisher said. “So we end up trying to divide them between the organizations that have space.”

Most of the time, law enforcement get involved in hoarding cases. However, the intent of the hoarders is not always malicious.

“People who hoard usually are not trying to do a bad thing,” said Fisher. “They’re trying to save animals but don’t have the resources to do it.”

“If they feel like they’re in over their head, just read out. We’re here to help,” said Quandt.

Dona Fisher says her favorite part of her job is when an animal gets adopted so that another one is able to come in

“We can only take so many and we’re saving as many as we can but they’re still some out there than need some help,” said Fisher.

Animals taken in at Safe Haven are first taken to the vet where they are checked for diseases, given shots, spayed or neutered before being made available for adoption.

Alex Tejada

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