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'We're constantly between 18 and 25': Stray animals push Milam County shelters over-capacity

Posted at 5:47 PM, Jan 03, 2024

ROCKDALE, Texas — Residents in Milam County are seeing more stray animals, and it's beginning to overwhelm shelters.

Long-time Rockdale resident Ashley Zimmerman says stray animals are becoming a problem in the city.

"Stray dogs are kind of like a normal thing here. I grew up in like a little subdivision two miles out of town," Zimmerman said.

"We had so many stray dogs dropped off, even my family started taking over — we adopted multiple strays."

It's why she adopts from the Rockdale Animal Control shelter.

"I've learned that mutts and strays can turn out to be the most loving, compassionate pets," she said.

Animals get the love and care they need, and it keeps the capacity down — but the shelter is over-capacity like dozens of others across Texas.

"Capacity is 12 with a couple of extra spots for emergencies, so max 15," said local Animal Control officer, Karen Janes.

"We're constantly between 18 and 25."

Issues like animal dumping, failing to leash, and spay and neuter pets, can all contribute to the problem.

Janes says she typically sees at least 10 stray animals a day.

She tries to find owners, but most dogs don't have microchips or collars, so she resorts to trying to search for the owner on social media — but she can't always take the animal in.

"There's not much that can be done when I'm over-capacity and have no other spot to put a dog," she said.

Janes is hoping that more people like Zimmerman try to adopt or foster.

"They [animals] are created to give us love and for us to love them — that's what they require and if you don't get the production out of animal, that you can just let it run around," Janes said.

"These animals don't know how to take care of themselves."