ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — Animal shelters in St. Lucie County and along the Treasure Coast say they are bursting at the seams. Some say they are filling up with animals being rescued from the Bahamas.
In St. Lucie County, Dogs and Cats Forever says the crisis in the Bahamas happened just as the Humane Society of St. Lucie County is nearing the end of its contracts with Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce and St. Lucie County.
That is putting stress on their shelter.
On Wednesday, Mandy Rowan with Dogs and Cats Forever said members of the public started bringing surrenders to them instead of the Humane Society of St. Lucie County, an open admissions shelter.
Rowan said people calling their rescue or dropping animals off at the rescue Wednesday were told to do so by staff at the Humane Society of St. Lucie County.
David Robertson, Executive Director for the Humane Society of St. Lucie County, said the shelter is still accepting animals, but for public safety and safety of dogs and cats at the Humane Society of St. Lucie County, they do refer to other rescues when they are at capacity.
"We’re trying to make space,” Rowan said. “We took in six animals today. That’s one day,” she explained, saying they typically intake one animal per day.
When more people than usual started showing up with animals to surrender, Rowan started calling around to see what was going on.
"I was livid on the animal's behalf and the people's behalf,” Rowan said.
She said she was given no communication from the Humane Society of St. Lucie County that more animals would be referred to them.
“We’ve got a lady bringing in a dog with a massive ear infection and the humane society won’t take it,” Rowan said.
Meanwhile, they know other shelters in the area are also filling up.
“We’re the last man standing, everyone else is like, 'We’ve got 25 coming from the Bahamas or 13 coming from South Carolina,'" Rowan said.
But, she says they will do what they can to prevent an outcome they fear could result from crowded shelters.
“I think we’re going to see a lot more abandonment, a lot of people that are just letting them go,” Rowan said.
A temporary shelter is supposed to be set up at the Treasure Coast International Airport by the time the contracts expire with The Humane Society of St. Lucie County at the end of September.
Dogs and Cats Forever is urging anyone who has considered fostering or adopting animals from any local shelters to take action.