Fort Bend

Fort Bend County Animal Services at more than double capacity for dogs

Though the shelter was built for about 90-95 dogs, it’s currently housing 221 dogs

Dogs are in crates as the Fort Bend animal shelter is overcrowded by double its capacity.
Natalie Weber/Houston Public Media
Dogs are in crates as the Fort Bend animal shelter is overcrowded by double its capacity.

Fort Bend County Animal Services is housing more than twice the number of dogs that the shelter was built to hold.

The shelter has become so oversaturated in recent months that at one point, employees feared they might have to euthanize for space.

"At one point, we had no idea what we were going to do, where we were going to put these animals," said Director of Fort Bend County Animal Services Rene Vasquez. "It was bad."

Currently, the shelter has 221 dogs, though it was designed to house between 90 and 95 dogs.

The shelter's kennels were built with an indoor space and an outdoor space for each dog, with a door between the two.

Now, the shelter is housing two dogs per kennel, with one in the indoor space and one in the outdoor space. About 30 other dogs are being held in crates.

"It's a struggle. ... It's chaos in the mornings," Vasquez said.

The shelter is also housing 45 cats, a number that's "manageable," Vasquez said.

Several local shelters have faced overcrowding in recent months, as adoptions have slowed and intakes have increased at shelters nationwide, following the end of pandemic lockdowns.

Vasquez said the shelters rely in part on animal rescue organizations to take some of their animals. But rescues have seemed unable to take as many animals recently, in part because the foster homes they rely on are full, Vasquez said.

"It seems like the adoptions have slowed down, the fostering has slowed down," he said.

County animal services recently received a $75,000 grant from the nonprofit, Petco Love. The animal shelter has also been using social media to ask the community for help, recently publishing a list of 10 of its long-time residents, in hopes of finding permanent homes for them.

Additionally, animal services has participated in adoption events almost every week, Vasquez said. On Dec. 9, the shelter will host an adoption event at the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds with the Rosenberg and Sugar Land animal shelters. Adoption fees for all the pets there will be waived.

"We've been doing everything and anything to get these animals out one way or another," Vasquez said.