The Mountain Humane animal shelter recently took in 35 puppies from owners unable or unwilling to care for them, putting pressure on a foster care program designed to fill the gap until animals can be adopted from the “no-kill” shelter.
Over the last two weeks the nonprofit has been receiving a significant increase in animal intakes following several “hoarding and cruelty” situations in southern Idaho that have left animal shelters in the region burdened with young animals in need of owners, according to Mountain Humane Senior Director of Shelter Operations Kelly Mitchell.
“We are getting calls almost daily,” Mitchell said.
A cruelty case is one that involves abandonment or neglect, she said.
“For example, two dogs were left in a crate together for almost two weeks near Burley,” Mitchell told the Express
Recently, 35 two-week-old puppies were rescued from a dairy farm near Twin Falls and transported to Mountain Humane. Within days, the shelter was alerted to four more cases around the state involving over 100 animals.
The shelter rescued 28 dogs and puppies in less than 10 days from Idaho shelters that did not have the capacity to save them. By the second week of July, Mountain Humane’s total animal population soared to 113 from an average of 60-70.
As a result of Mountain Humane’s rescue efforts, the puppy and kitten population under the shelter’s care “skyrocketed” to 68, Mitchell said.
The animals were rescued from Idaho Falls, Burley, Jerome, Twin Falls, and a nearby Indian reservation. Mountain Humane is working to find them new owners.
Mitchell said she is unsure why there are
so many young pets in need all at once. “Each case is different,” Mitchell said. “I don’t know if it’s because people are struggling to just take care of themselves. There was such a surge of adoptions during COVID, and we thought pets would wind up back in shelters. But that’s not what we are seeing. We are seeing a whole new group of intakes from dire situations.”
Some puppies and kittens will stay at the facility under the watchful eye of medical and animal care staff. But many will be handed off to dozens of valley residents who volunteer each year to foster animals in their homes until they are an adoptable age.
Regular foster care helpers include Jennifer and Brian Barth, employees at Sun Valley Resort. The Barth’s have fostered hundreds of puppies for the organization and will take on the nine puppies abandoned at the dairy farm for the next few weeks, Mitchell said. They use a sturdy puppy pen in the middle of their kitchen to contain them.
“At any given time, we will have 20 to 30 animals out in fostering,” Mitchell said. “This can take six to eight weeks for new kittens and two to 12 weeks for puppies, depending on their ages.
“Foster care people should be able to bottle feed kittens and puppies every two to four hours. It can be quite a job.”
Mountain Humane has been operating for almost 50 years in Croy Canyon near Hailey. The shelter provides animals rescue and offers spay/neutering and other services.
“Saving animals from overcrowded shelters in Idaho, where they otherwise would have been euthanized, has always been a big part of the work we do at Mountain Humane,” said Anne McCauley, Executive Director of the shelter. “But having space, professional staff, support services, and programs to take on so many animals all at once is something our community should be immensely proud of.”
For more information go to mountainhumane.org