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San Diego Humane Society dealing with 'unprecedented' number of dogs in shelters

The canine distemper virus outbreak, winter weather, and high amount of stray dogs are contributing factors.

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Humane Society is asking the community to help with what it says is an unprecedented intake of dogs across the county.

This time of the year is usually considered a slow season but the shelter says it’s at over capacity.

The San Diego humane Society is in much need of essential space in its shelters.

“We have about 1,200 pets in our population and about 600 of those are dogs,” said Nina Thompson with the San Diego Humane Society.

Shelters are seeing double the number of dogs they normally have this time of year.

Thompson says the situation is especially challenging because of the canine distemper virus outbreak.

"The virus is presenting a challenge at San Diego Humane Society right now because we have to quarantine dogs in order to protect them and make sure they are not exposed," added Thompson.

The surge of infections is mainly due to the intake of stray dogs that are not vaccinated.

Another challenge is the winter weather in most parts of the country.

"Our tests go to Wisconsin and our swabs come from Wisconsin, so it's creating delays as well with our testing so its just a perfect storm," said Thompson.

She adds that the number of stray dogs they are picking up is unlike anything they have seen before and says inflation could be driving people to make desperate choices with their pets. The pause in spay and neuter practices during the pandemic is only adding to the problem.

Even though shelters won’t put down an animal for time or space, they are calling on people to adopt or foster in effort to make room for more animals.

"With the current distemper outbreak and the incredible amount of dogs we have here, it’s a challenge," she said.

Another way to relieve stress on the shelters is to re-home pets you can no longer keep instead of dropping them off.

The San Diego Humane Society is asking the community to hold on to pets they want to surrender until at least January 15 so they can get through the quarantine period.

Right now, all fees are waived for adult dogs until December 31.

San Diego Humane Society is open for walk-in adoptions Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at its campuses in Escondido, El Cajon, Oceanside and San Diego. 

For more information about how to adopt, foster or volunteer, click here

WATCH RELATED: All-star volunteer dog walker is a animal shelter's best friend (December 2022) 

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