Rescue pets overflow shelter

The Marion County Dog Services shelter is almost out of available kennel space. Dog Services Manager, Melissa Gable, is urging people to adopt from their shelter if they are looking to adopt and to hold any lost dogs they have found in their neighborhood, if possible.

“We cannot turn stray dogs away. That then results in never knowing from one day to the next how many strays are going to come to us,” Gable said.

The shelter has taken 85 more dogs this year compared to last year, although they are not sure as to why.

“We haven’t been able to determine exactly why the numbers are up, but there has definitely been an increase. It seems to be that a lot of the dogs that are coming in aren’t getting claimed by their owners,” Gable said.

The shelter legally has to hold dogs for 72 hours before they can be put up for adoption. However, some cases may be extended for two additional days if they have information about who the dog may belong to.

After 72 hours the dog may go to a rescue, foster home, or up for adoption. 

“I tell everyone that time is of the essence because it’s only 72 hours. And after that 72 hour period, if the dog is physically and mentally healthy, there are a lot of different avenues that it could go down,” she said.

Some dogs may also not be available for adoption if they still have aggressive behaviors.

“Even though the kennels may be full, there might only be a small portion of them that are available for adoption because the other ones aren’t available,” Gable said.

If your dog goes missing, there are some options you can take. Gable suggests that people make posters and search around their neighborhood first.

“I think what people don’t realize is that a lot of dogs stay within one to two miles of their home when they go missing,” she said.

After that, a lost dog report can be filled out on the Marion County Dog Services website. Anyone that finds a stray dog can also fill out a form on the website.

To best ensure that your pets don’t escape, it is important to check their environment. Make sure gates are closed and fences haven’t blown down or can be jumped over. Gable mentions that it is also important to check that dogs can’t jump onto something to then jump over the fence.

“Make sure that everything is secure before you put your dog out and leave for the day or even for a couple hours,” she said.

A lot of people have been concerned about the number of dogs being euthanized, especially in a full shelter. However, Gable wants to make it clear that things have changed a lot over the years.

“Our live release rate, which is the percentage of dogs that are leaving the shelter, is right around 94% right now,” she said.

Gable mentions that this is mostly due to rescue partners, adopters and foster parents. The Marion County Dog Services wants to continue working on the foster program so that once a dog is done with the 72 hour hold, they will go into a foster home. They are hoping to get this program in place before July 4th.

“We really need to expand our foster base right now. We have a core group that is amazing, but as we’re wanting to send more dogs out, we’re going to need a lot more homes,” Gable said.

They are also looking for volunteers that can walk the dogs and help around the shelter. Training is required.

For more information about volunteering and adopting, visit