San Jose animal shelter at capacity as fireworks 'likely' separated pets from owners

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Wednesday, July 6, 2022
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San Jose's Animal Care Center says holiday weekend's fireworks led to 520 pets on site, traumatized and separated from their owners.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The City of San Jose's Animal Care Center is asking the community for help clearing the shelter. Staff say the July Fourth holiday typically leads to an increase in lost pets, traumatized by fireworks.

However, the center was already at capacity as the holiday approached. Now the race is on to help relieve pressure on staff and to help reunite pets.

"We don't have any data to back it up, but we do feel like there was some early fireworks going on and that probably resulted in some of these dogs coming to our shelter early," Jay Terrado, San José's Animal Care Services Director told ABC7 News.

Terrado said Monday's fireworks use only further overwhelmed the shelter with runaway pets.

By Tuesday, he said there were 520 animals on site. Terrado estimated up to 60 cats, 144 dogs, nearly 290 kittens and various other animals like rabbits and hamsters.

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Comparatively, Terrado said at one point in the early days of the pandemic, there were only 30 animals at the center.

Fast forward, he said the shelter received close to 40 lost dogs since Friday, which is 10 more than this time last year.

"It's about a 33% increase in our intake for dogs," Terrado explained. "Cats, not so much. But dogs are definitely a lot of our focus when it comes to Fourth of July."

Terrado said the center is exhausting every avenue to manage intake - encouraging adoption and fostering and leaning on residents to help temporarily house lost pets.

"There are community members that have found animals, that are electing to keep them at this moment in time," he added. "But if they're not able to find owners, then the next step for them is to come to our shelter and drop off those animals that they did find."

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The shelter is offering incentives to ease impact. Terrado told ABC7 News the shelter is waiving all boarding and impound fees, and is offering free adoptions for cats, dogs, kittens, and puppies.

Since the shelter is full, staff has run out of kennel space for dogs. They're asking the community to help get dogs out of the center so they can make room for the pets that get separated from their families during this year's fireworks.

There's concern any additional detonation could send more dogs running.

"Unfortunately, some of that illegal fireworks use continues in our community," San Jose Fire Department (SJFD) PIO Erica Ray said.

Preliminary fireworks-related data published Tuesday by the San Jose Fire Department shows it took 59 fireworks-related calls from the first through Fourth of July. The info said San Jose Police received 517 calls, and that nearly 1,800 reports were made using the online reporting tool. This year, data provided some promising development.

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"With the improvements to the recording tool, we had zero incomplete reports this year," Ray shared. "So that is definitely a testament to the time that has been spent improving the tool."

Back at the Animal Care Center, Terrado said the best tool for pet owners is getting your pet microchipped.

For now, staff is challenged with managing a full shelter and the threat of more fireworks.

"You can plan for it, but the reality is you just have to deal with what comes every year," Terrado shared.

For more information on adopting, volunteering, and other ways to assist the shelter, click here.

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