Pamplin Media Group – Humane Society overflows with dogs and cats


Sudden influx swamps Three Rivers Shelter with double the usual animal population

For the past few weeks, the animals are coming in far faster than Three Rivers Humane Society can adopt them out.

“This is probably the longest we’ve held a full shelter,” said Executive Director Steve Drynan. He says this population explosion has lasted three to four weeks.

Most of the dogs have to be doubled up in kennels. The 60-65 count of dogs is double the usual, about 30 to 35.

Drynan says they’ve handled sudden increases in dogs before, like the time they had to take in more than 57 mini Australian shepherds after officers took the dogs from a breeder, but this surge has no single explanation.

“They can’t afford them, or they’re moving,” said Jennifer Dobkins, who runs the reception desk. “They can’t have a dog where there moving to.”

“People wanted a dog and they weren’t prepared,” said Ryane Dobkins, Jennifer’s daughter who works as a kennel tech. “(The dogs) are more than they can handle or they can’t afford them.”

Some point to people who impulsively got pets during the pandemic.

“There was one guy who said we were home a lot and wanted a dog for company,” said Jennifer. “Now he works eight to 10 hours a day and doesn’t have time for a dog.”

Drynan doesn’t blame the pandemic. He says this year has generally been slower than usual, caring for about 340 animals so far when they’d usually see about 500 animals by this time in the year.

He thinks it’s the economy.

“People are nervous right now because of the way the economy is going,” he said. “Gas prices are at an all-time high. People worry whether they can feed their family, much less a pet.”

Certainly more animals at the shelter increases the workload.

“It takes twice as long for dogs that are bunked together: twice the bedding, twice the food, twice the water,” said kennel tech Jarrette Santacruz. But he worries about the dogs. “When there are more dogs it stresses them out.”

PMG PHOTO: PAT KRUIS - Michael and Marcia Whitter of Bend take home a new dog, right, as a companion for their current dog, left.  They chose this dog for its size and temperament.  Three Rivers Humane Society is a low kill shelter.  The only solution to its overpopulation is people like the Whitters adopting pets.

Three Rivers is a low-kill shelter, meaning they euthanize animals only if they’re aggressive or sick.

People who adopt animals at Three Rivers sign a contract promising they’ll return the animal to the shelter if they decide they can’t keep it.

Jennifer Dobkins says it’s hard to watch families surrender their pets.

“Most are bawling to have to turn their dogs back in, especially the ones who have to move or have a new job.”

A full shelter also means turning away animals in need: strays, puppies or shelter kittens, animals from others that are just as full.

By contract Three Rivers must receive pets from people who first adopted them from the shelter.

For this shelter the only solution to this surplus is more people adopting pets. Like Marcia and Michael Whitter of Bend. They looked at maybe 1,000 dogs online, then met two dogs in person before they settled on the dog they took home with them Friday. They lost two dogs already this year and are looking for a companion for their one dog, name.

They don’t know the breed of the dog they’ve chosen. They like her size and her temperament. They’re considering the names Crystal, Chloe, or Camille for the lucky dog ​​who gets to leave a cramped and noisy shelter to a new home.


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