Visalia's city-run animal shelter is full amid a holiday surge in lost and abandoned animals.
Shelter officials are asking the public for help to move some of the animals to other shelters or adopt large-breed dogs that are stressing the shelter's capacity the most.
As of Wednesday, all of Visalia Animal Care Center's kennels were occupied with roughly 65 animals, said Ivy Ruiz, Visalia Animal Services superintendent.
The Visalia shelter typically relies on a network of rescue organizations to rehome animals, but those are straining under the holiday surge as well, Ruiz said.
"For whatever reason, they're experiencing a large population, so they're unable to take those animals off our hands," she said. "We are doing everything we can to achieve the best outcome for our animals."
The problem is affecting shelters countywide to varying degrees.
"Tulare County Animal Services has also experienced a surge of shelter animals and critical capacity for some time," said Carrie Monteiro, Health and Human Services Agency spokesperson.
An Oregon shelter offered to foster about 15 of the Visalia-based animals, but the logistics of transporting large dogs hundreds of miles has proved challenging.
The shelter needs volunteers to drive some of the dogs, Ruiz said.
Residents can also help the stressed shelter by adopting large-breed dogs. Adoption fees have been waived or discounted for many larger animals.
The Visalia shelter typically only performs 10 to 15 adoptions a year. That's because residents tend to turn to other organizations such as Valley Oak SPCA for their adoption needs, Ruiz said.
Another way residents can help is by turning to animal control for lost animals only as a last resort.
"It is really helpful for us when the community does its own search to reunite a lost pet with its family; it alleviates space in the shelter and leaves room for animals who are truly homeless," Ruiz said
People interested in adopting an animal should visit the shelter between 1 and 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. You may call to schedule a morning appointment, but the shelter is short-staffed and occasionally experiences a high volume of calls, Ruiz said.
Those who can help move animals should contact the shelter through its Facebook page, Ruiz said.
Joshua Yeager is a reporter with the Visalia Times-Delta and a Report for America corps member. He covers Tulare County news deserts, focusing on the environment and local governments.
This article originally appeared on Visalia Times-Delta: Visalia Animal Shelter full amid holiday surge in lost, abandoned pets