Alachua County is no longer accepting animals for its shelter due to what officials are calling "crisis-level overcrowding" and low staffing numbers.
The county's Animal Resources and Care center has been overrun with cats and dogs for months. Though the numbers at the no-kill shelter have declined slightly, county administration says the issue is too much to handle at this time.
"I am ordering this shut down for the sake of the animals and our staff," said Alachua County Manager Michele Lieberman. "We are seeing nationwide staffing shortages, and unfortunately, Alachua County is not immune. Working at the animal shelter, particularly when severely overcrowded, is physically and emotionally exhausting for existing staff doing their best to take care of the animals."
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The move is temporary, officials say, and comes after a county special meeting where the issue was discussed at length. Elected leaders discussed the idea of building a new, larger shelter and the immediate need for volunteers and for people to adopt pets.
As of this week, the county had 110 dogs at its shelter with 21 dogs being held in overflow crates.
The shelter will return to accepting animals once it returns to its regular capacity levels.
"I fully support the manager's decision," said Marihelen Wheeler, chair of the Alachua County Commission. "The number of animals at the shelter exceeds the staff's capacity to provide humane care. The overcrowding crisis must be addressed for the welfare of the animals and the health of our dedicated staff."
Residents who choose to get involved with free-roaming animals are encouraged to find owners of the potentially lost pets on their own.
Animal resource officers will continue to take calls from the community regarding public safety and can still treat animals in need of veterinarian care.
The shelter remains open for adoptions and reclaims.
Those looking to volunteer can fill out the registration form online at alachuacounty.seamlessdocs.com/f/VolunteerPacket. Once the form is submitted, potential volunteers will be sent a Zoom link to the mandatory orientation.
This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: Alachua County shelter no longer taking in animals due to overcrowding