McGee could be the face of a bleak holiday to come for some Southeast dogs and cats.
The overweight, friendly, 10-year-old Australian Shepherd was surrendered by owners who could no longer care for him.
He’s in the care of the Ketchikan Humane Society, which put him on a diet and plans to neuter him before he’s put up for adoption.
As a likable, active, housebroken purebred, he’s got a good shot at eventually finding a home.
But in the meantime, he and other humane society dogs are in need of some temporary housing over the holidays.
Before they’re adopted, most society pets spend time in what’s called a foster home. They’re socialized, house- and kennel-trained, and treated for any illnesses, if there’s a need.
“The Ketchikan Humane Society tries to foster our rescues in a home environment as much as possible,” says Board President Gretchen Moore. “So when we place an animal, a cat or a dog or a macaw or a rabbit or whatever we have, that animal’s ready to slide seamlessly into a family home and be part of a family.”
(Scroll down for links to Southeast shelters, animal control offices and rescue groups.)
But right now, there’s a shortage.
Moore, who owns a kennel and pet-supplies shop called Groomingdales, cares for a number of the dogs at home, and keeps them in empty kennels while at work.
She says those kennels will soon fill up with paying customers, because so many people board their pets while traveling for Christmas.
“I take the rescue dogs to work every day with me and I take them home in the evening. But during the day I’m going to run out of spots here because I have a lot of guests who are going to be showing up for the holidays,” she says.
As a result, the humane society is looking for more foster homes, which usually take pets for a few days to a month.
John Harrington, another board member, says Ketchikan also has more rescued cats and kittens than it can handle.
“It is so much so that at this point, unless this community comes forward and starts adopting them rapidly, we’re going to be moving into a kill process of getting rid of cats all over the place,” he says.
Juneau’s Gastineau Humane Society has also seen an influx of cats and kittens this year.
It also boards dogs. But Office Manager Samantha Blankenship says it doesn’t have so many holiday reservations that rescues will get pushed out.
Meanwhile, the society is warning against another holiday issue: unwanted gift pets.
“We, of course, always encourage people not to give an animal as a gift to someone unknowingly. They should be a part of the decision of both deciding to get an animal and choosing the animal for themselves,” she says.
Both the Ketchikan and Juneau societies are trying to find homes for older pets.
Juneau’s Blankenship says they don’t usually need house-training, and are easier to care for.
“There’s plenty of animals that are in need of homes that are in their senior years that still have many years left. (They) just may be a little bit more mellow than a puppy or a kitten and may be not requiring of so much effort,” she says.
The Ketchikan society, like Juneau’s and many other towns’, spays or neuters all adoptees, to limit the number of new strays.
Here’s a list of some Southeast Alaska pet shelters, animal control offices and rescue groups. Email email@example.com if we missed your group and we’ll add it.
- The Ketchikan Humane Society
- The Gastineau Humane Society, Juneau
- Southeast Alaska Organization for Animals (SOFA), Ketchikan and Juneau
- The Petersburg Humane Association
- St. Francis Animal Rescue, Wrangell
- Sitka Animal Shelter
- Haines Animal Rescue Kennel
- Paws and Claws Animal Shelter, Skagway
- Craig Animal Control
An earlier version of this report switched Thompson and Moore’s names. We regret the error.