FORT WORTH - "Hi puppies."
Fort Worth Animal Control Officer Jay Sabatucci is met by a chorus of barks as he walks into a backyard. The situation tells pretty much the whole story of shelter overcrowding.
The resident said he fed and sheltered some strays. The strays bred. Moms and pups soon overwhelmed their would-be caretaker.
Sabatucci gently loaded them into his truck. Some just a few weeks old.
"Come on darlings," he said. "Aren't you cute."
When asked why he called animal control to get the dogs, the resident replied, "Too much food. I don't have anybody to take care of them."
Sabatucci loaded up eight dogs here for a ride to an uncertain future.
Seventy-to-80 animals a day now flood into Fort Worth's shelter. It's a snapshot of a system in chronic crisis.
If the dogs are lucky, they'll meet a family like the Arnolds. They were among a lobby full of families who came to adopt after hearing there was no more room, and that 77 dogs were on a list to be euthanized Wednesday night.
Rescuers and staff worked until midnight to make get the numbers down to capacity and avoid putting animals down.
Shelter officials say adoption helps, but it's not a solution. There aren't enough families to take them all.
The Arnolds chose a skin-and-bones Whippet mix they're thinking of naming Willa. She's skinny, but affectionate.
Through July 15, the Fort Worth shelter is adopting dogs for $24.50. Cats are $12.50. The price includes spay or neuter, heartworm check, shots and microchip.
Shelter officials said there are also plenty of low cost spay/neuter options, and even free dog food available. Locations are listed below.
Here is a list provided by the City of Fort Worth:
Community Food Bank
3000 Galvez Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76111
Services: Offers free pet food, Open Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Fort Worth Low Cost Spay and Neuter
2421 Westport Parkway, Suite 400
Fort Worth, TX 76177
Services: Accept cash or credit only for all services. Low-cost vaccinations are Monday-Friday at the Fort Worth location. No appointment is necessary for vaccinations. Vaccination hours: Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Spay and neuter surgeries are by appointment only. Surgery appointments have a check-in time of 8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. Pet pickup is between 3:00-4:00 p.m.
All pets must have written proof of a current rabies vaccine or receive the vaccine at the time of surgery.
Burleson Low Cost Spay and Neuter
344 SW Wilshire Blvd, Suite E
Elks Plaza, Burleson, TX 76028
Services: Low-Cost Vaccination hours: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 9:00 a.m. – noon. Accept cash or credit only as payment for services.
Spay and neuter surgeries are by appointment only. Appointments have a check-in time of 8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. Pet checkout is between 2:00-3:00 p.m.
All pets must have written proof of a current rabies vaccine or receive the vaccine at the time of surgery. All pets must be brought in their own pet carrier or kennel.
Animal Hope Wellness Center
4900 Martin Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76119
Services Offered: Low-cost Spay/Neuter for dogs and cats, Low-cost Vaccinations. Hours of operation: Saturday and Sundays only. Appointment required.
North Texas Humane Society
1840 E. Lancaster Ave.
Fort Worth, TX 76103
6708 South Hulen
Fort Worth, TX 76133
Services: Spay/Neuter for dogs and cats available for qualified low-income and senior-citizen pet owners.