The Union County Animal Protection Society is over capacity, its volunteers overworked and its supplies overwhelmed, and the nonprofit is seeking help from the community.
Over the weekend, UCAPS held “adoption specials,” offering pets for a lower cost than it is typically able to, simply because there is not enough space in any of its facilities to hold all the animals in their care.
“The reason we did the discount adoption special was due to our intakes just continuing to climb and not levelling off,” said Terra Walker, UCAPS Board president. “We’re definitely hovering around the 450 mark. We’re at capacity.”
Walker said one of the hardest parts of having so many animals in UCAPS’s care is finding time to give them all the care they deserve.
“A dog requires a minimum of 15-20 minutes a day, per dog – so every puppy we take in, every dog we take in, that’s three walks a day, minimum, cleaning out their kennel twice a day, two feedings a day. That’s what starts to add up,” Walker said. “There’s not enough volunteers or hours in the day to keep adding 20 more minutes.”
And while many young volunteers – pre-teens and children – volunteered their time over the summer, Walker said having to supervise volunteers can sometimes cause more difficulty for adult workers.
“We do try to accommodate, but that makes it harder on the adults there. What we haven’t been getting are a lot of adult applications. A parent and a young person can do it together; it’s just hard for us to keep track of a pre-teen in addition to all the other things that have to be done on each shift,” she said.
Volunteering at UCAPS isn’t that hard, though, Walker said. In addition to walking dogs, volunteers can also take shifts to wash dishes, load and fold laundry or help with other household tasks at the nonprofit’s Adoption Center at 727 E. Main.
“Something a lot of people can do, I call it an expediter position. In the mornings, after things settle down, they’d just be helping us get the dishes washed, do laundry, put it away, clean the kitchen floor,” Walker said. “And then that same need is there in the evening from 6-7 (p.m.).”
Between the adoption center and multiple weekly trips to out-of-state shelters that regularly take some of UCAPS’s animals off their hands, the nonprofit is currently treading water, but Walker said volunteers, supplies and monetary support are in short supply and much needed.
“Time is a problem, so sometimes I would say it’s convenient having food dropped off; that’s a trip to Walmart we don’t have to make,” Walker said. “Monetary donations help us purchase things that people maybe don’t think of; maybe we’ve got too much of a certain item and need to go purchase another.”
Walker said the dogs at the adoption center are consistently fed Purina One food with lamb, while the cats are fed Purina One cat and kitten chow. But UCAPS will take any kind of cat or dog food to keep the animals’ bellies full.
“We will use everything,” she said.
UCAPS has a couple of fundraisers coming up in September (a donation drive) and October (the annual poker run). But in the meantime, those who wish to volunteer or donate to the nonprofit can do so by calling 918-230-4851 or 870-866-3223, visiting ucapsshelter.org/donate or stopping by the adoption center.
“There’s a little confusion out there; people get frustrated they can’t just bring animals non-stop, but we just can’t do it. We can’t take them all,” Walker said.