FREDERICK, Md. (WDVM) — In 2018, staff at the Frederick County Animal Shelter estimated that 4,000 animals were surrendered, about half of them by their owners.
This month, the shelter decided to alter its intake policy for pet owners.
“It used to be that people could come in, any time we open, and we would take in surrendered animals, stray animals. But people who are surrendering their personal pets, we are now asking them to make an appointment,” explained Bethany Davidson with the Frederick County Animal Shelter.
Davidson says that an appointment can be scheduled over the phone and that call will give staff a chance to collect the pet’s history and to gauge the issues pet owners may have and possibly find solutions.
“Sometimes people are having issues in their homes with their pets, [like] behavior issues, maybe there’s a medical need where there’s a financial problem. We are going to provide them with some resources up front to maybe help them to keep their pets,” Davidson said.
Staff say these appointments can also give them the time to evaluate the space that they do have open and available, and to eliminate overcrowding.
“We know what to expect, what’s coming in, so if we need to maneuver animals in house we can do that. If we know that we have a lot of animals here now, maybe we can’t take a new animal today, but maybe we can do it tomorrow,” said Davidson.
Staff acknowledges this is an extra step, but don’t see it as a deterrence to owners, especially in extreme cases.
“We’re not necessarily going to say ‘Oh, you have to wait until tomorrow’ when it’s an emergency,” explained Davidson.
The Frederick County Animal says the policy change does not apply to those bringing in stray animals.