A full house: What happens when the Fairbanks Animal Shelter is at max capacity?

Published: Jun. 17, 2021 at 3:43 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - It’s been a busy summer so far for the Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Shelter. With so many animals coming in and out, what happens if the shelter gets full?

According to Kimberly Imbert, Animal Shelter Operations Supervisor with Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Shelter, while the shelter is currently not maxed out, it is at a fuller capacity than usual. “As shelter populations generally go, it kind of goes in waves. So during the weekends, we’re getting a lot of animals in, we’re seeing a lot of intake, and then during the week we’re moving animals through but we’re still receiving them. So, our numbers are staying quite high.”

Whenever the shelter gets close to running out of kennels, Imbert said that the shelter will look for creative solutions to make more space. “So when the shelter gets full, especially on a weekend or a holiday when we’re closed, we do the best we can. If an animal like a dog seems like an outside dog that knows how to be tethered on a chain, we’ll move those dogs out to our sled dog yard to make inside kennel space. But not all dogs know how to be tethered to a chain, so that’s something that we have to observe and make sure that they’re safe being tethered. We can also put smaller dogs into the cat condo area if we need to. We just get creative with how we can house those animals until we’re open. Then once we are open, we are prioritizing our stray animals going home, and then just making as much kennel space as we can that way - getting animals home, and getting animals adopted.”

Along with strays, another factor that keeps animals at the shelter is medical needs that must be addressed before they can be considered adoptable.

“We have a lot of animals that need to be spayed and neutered but we also have animals with other medical concerns, and a lot of times that’s the reason they were surrendered to us. So when we’re waiting for those medical concerns to be addressed, like a dental or to have a lump looked at, a lot of those really extensive medical procedures are supported by a non-profit called the Shelter Fund. The Shelter Fund is only for Fairbanks North Star Borough animals, so we try to place those animals in foster if possible. If not, then they have to go to rescues, and when an animal goes to rescue, a transfer of ownership has occurred so the Shelter Fund can no longer support those animals,” Imbert said.

There are a few ways that community members can assist and support the FNSB Animal Shelter to help make sure the animals get the best care possible. Imbert continued, “If you’re already a pet owner, the best thing that you can do to help us is to keep your animals safely contained at home. Respect the leash law, keep your pet safe and happy with you, because that’s one less kennel that we have to worry about if your pet is home. Another thing that you could do for us, you could be a foster family for us. So you could apply to be a foster for some of our animals that are waiting for their medical needs. Then of course, spaying and neutering to prevent accidental litters, or supporting some of the nonprofits that benefit animals in the area who are also very helpful.”

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