PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Humane Society is in need of supplies, food, donations and, especially, adoptees for more than 150 cats.
The nonprofit organization is asking animals lovers to help with an escalating situation by donating cash or goods, adopting a homeless animal or sponsoring an animal’s adoption, providing a specialized foster home or volunteering.
The shelter is taking $100 off dog and cat adoption fees through July 15 in an effort to move animals out of the crowded shelter. In addition, adoption fees of all small animals except rabbits will be waived.
"I've never seen it like this," said John Perreault, executive director, in a statement. "We have waiting lists for people to surrender their pet; our kennel is full, our cat room is full and we're overflowing with small animals — more than double our normal capacity.
"We can't keep pet food in our pantry due to increased assistance requests and our low-cost spay and neuter program is booking into February. It's a harmonic convergence of need and we're looking to the good people of Berkshire County and beyond to help fulfill that need."
Perrault said the society is asking for money donations to support its life-saving programs, including its pet food pantry and low-cost spay and neuter program. The shelter is also accepting donations of dog and cat food and cat litter.
"If you were ever thinking about adopting an animal, now is the time. We have the best selection of animals that we've had in years," he said. "And if you can't adopt, you can sponsor the adoption fee or one of our animals, individually or through your business."
Volunteers at the shelter are also welcome and there are expanded opportunities to foster animals that need individual attention before becoming adoptable.
Perreault said he hasn't seen shelter populations as large as they are since the late 1990s. He attributes this to a number of factors.
"Other shelters throughout New York and New England previously reported a 'post-COVID' surge in surrenders. We hadn't seen that, but now we are. People are losing their homes and their money and can't afford food or veterinary care for their pets, if they can even find a vet appointment," he said.
"Some people are so desperate that they've abandoned their pets at our door, as was the recent case for a young hound and box of guinea pigs. We ask anyone needing to surrender an animal to work with us and find an appropriate time for us to accept your animal. It may take a few weeks, but together we can find that perfect home."
Other factors ballooning animal numbers is a lack and timely availability of low-cost spay and neuter programs for pet cats and community cats that's resulted in an excess of kittens.
The shelter has also admitted more animals recently to help towns deal with unhealthy overcrowding of animals in homes, including more than 70 dogs and cats from just two removal cases. On top of that, more adoptable cats have been captured through the shelter's Community Cat Program.
Shelves in the food bank are depleted regularly and more pets need medical attention before they are adoptable. Animals are also staying longer at the shelter because they await scarce spay and neuter appointments. With a shortage of local veterinarians, the shelter has advertised for an in-house veterinarian to address these needs.
Berkshire Humane Society recently opened a Wellness Clinic in the former Allen Heights Veterinary Hospital to provide affordable and accessible preventative care.
"We're doing what we can to relieve the pressure," said Perreault, "but as a nonprofit, we can only do as much as our supporter provide. On behalf of the animals, we're asking for your help."
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