Animal shelter sees influx of pets as winter approaches

Nov. 23—The St. Joseph Animal Shelter has been at critical capacity for months, with many people surrendering their pets due to inflation. Now as temperatures begin to drop, the situation could get worse.

"We're doing a little bit better on the cat side of things right now," said Aubrey Silvey, senior animal care specialist at the St. Joseph Animal Shelter. "It quickly changes down here for us, but we still have stayed pretty much at critical capacity for dogs just consistently this year."

Silvey said about 40 dogs currently are in the kennel with 14 others out in the prison program and many in foster care. However, staff members expect to see these numbers grow with winter quickly approaching.

"We do see an influx as it starts to get colder outside," Silvey said. "People notice animals that are left outdoors that do need us, and that's why we're here. But we definitely do see an influx of both cats and dogs in the colder months."

Through adoption specials and promoting foster care, Silvey said many animals found homes, which helped address some of the overcrowding issues.

"We've seen these specials pull in a lot of adopters even from outside of our area, which has been very beneficial and helps move animals quickly," Silvey said. "Our foster program has been super helpful and we always need more fosters. Being able to get those animals out of cages and into foster homes makes space here at the shelter for us to continue to bring in those animals off the streets that need our help."

The community also was responsive in supporting the shelter.

"We did a lot of outreach saying we're in a state of emergency and we need foster homes or we need volunteers," Silvey said. "The community's been really receptive to that. So we've been really grateful."

Silvey said the COVID-19 pandemic is a contributing factor to the increase of animals in need of a home.

"When COVID hit, we had barely any animals in the shelter," Silvey said. "A lot of people weren't working so more were able to take in extra pets. Then after things kind of went back to normal, people went back to work and we saw a lot of COVID puppies where people had gotten them as puppies and then rehoming those animals because they no longer had time for them. Obviously, the economy is a factor as well, so people are rehoming their pets a lot right now."

However, the holiday season usually brings more people in looking to adopt and give back.

"Usually after Thanksgiving, we start to see a lot of people looking into adopting pets for the holiday season, which can be a good thing and a bad thing," Silvey said. "We also get a lot of donations during the holiday season that really helps with that influx of animals. So we see a lot of good that comes from the holiday season."

To find out how you can support the St. Joseph Animal Shelter, visit its website at

Sara Rooney can be reached at