Pet Shelter Packed with Animals Their Owners Can't Afford | Urban Wildlife

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Pet Shelter Packed with Animals Their Owners Can't Afford
Urban Wildlife
Pet Shelter Packed with Animals Their Owners Can't Afford

One by one, the work trucks pull up to the St. Johns County Animal Control Pet Center, often filled with pets whose owners no longer want them.

Animal Control Division Chief Paul Studivant described the pet center as "inundated" with pets the owners can't afford. "It's due to the economy and unemployment. We're hearing every story you could possibly hear," Studivant said.

Some people are abandoning pets, but Studivant said it appears more are giving up their animals this year, surrendering them to the center.

There are so many owner-surrendered pets at the center, there's little room for strays.

According to St. Johns County Animal Control, between January 2010 and July 2010, there were 2,118 surrendered pets. During that same time period, the number jumped to 2,403.

Today, a young woman dropped off a little dog named Buster. 

The white dog's hair was very matted, and he was extremely thin, with cuts on its body.

"A young lady brought it in and said she found it in the neighborhood," Studivant said. She said she thought her neighbors had left him, but he's so matted that she attempted to shave the mats off. She had him for a month and fed him."

Studivant said the young woman and her family could not afford it to take care of it. "Due to his condition, she decided to bring it to the shelter. "

Buster's sad face and weak body makes him a victim of a bad economy, Studivant said.

Buster and others who used to have good homes - have been given up.

The more animals that are dropped off, the more animals that have to be put down. Animal Control does not have space for all of the animals it receives and it's the only animal shelter in St. Johns County.  Studivant said due to the increase in owner-surrendered pets, the euthanasia rate has increased as well.

Other no-kill organizations are full as well, he said. Studivant explained he and his staff have advised some owners to contact no-kill organizations, however, often he gets calls from those same owners saying those organizations cannot take more animals.

As an animal control officer walked another cute dog the center Wednesday, Studivant said, "It's just crazy. It just hasn't stopped."

Most of the animals at the St. Johns Pet Center are adoptable.  If you are interested in providing a home to one of these pets, call (904) 209-6190, or go to 130 N. Stratton Road, just off of U.S. 1 North. It's open Monday-Friday from 9-4 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9-12:30. 

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