The Flathead County Animal Shelter has reached crisis overpopulation levels and will no longer accept owner-surrendered cats until it has more space.
Director Cliff Bennett asked valley residents for patience as the shelter attempts to reduce its population through adoptions, rescue organizations and foster homes. But he also noted that turning away surrendered pets is a move of the last resort.
“Flathead County pet owners surrendering their animals are being asked for patience and understanding as we attempt to relieve our overpopulation with pet adoptions, rescue organizations, and temporary foster homes,” Bennett wrote in a prepared statement.
Bennett said the shelter currently has an “unmanageable overpopulation of cats, and is currently out of housing space.”
The shelter will not euthanize animals for space, Bennett wrote; as a shelter with a low-kill policy, only animals that are critically ill, critically injured, or extremely vicious can be euthanized.
In late November, the county animal shelter was already at full capacity and actively searching for foster families or permanent homes for the animals already at the facility.
The cold weather prohibits the shelter from keeping dogs outside, county health officer Joe Russell said in November. He also urged owners not to abandon their animals in the cold.
Bennett asked pet owners to thoroughly explore other possibilities if they need to re-home their pet and to contact professionals such as trainers or veterinarians about behavioral or health concerns.
The shelter will be available to help answer questions and offer suggestions for owners at 752-1310. Pet owners can also visit Flathead Shelter Friends’ website for a list of links for resources about pet concerns: www.flatheadshelterfriends.com.
UPDATE This story was updated to reflect a note from shelter Director Cliff Bennett, who said the shelter is full for cats but does have room for dogs at this time.
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