By Jessica Arsenault Rivenburg

“So many people have to surrender their pets due to moving, having accidental litters, they are allergic, not trained enough, or they are too hyper. The list goes on and on. We just want you to know that we cannot keep up with your irresponsibility,” so reads a recent post on the Herkimer County Humane Society’s Facebook page. “Please bear with us as we are taking care of 100 animals, answering phone calls, talking to the public, and cleaning. And please be patient with us. We are trying.”

The Humane Society, like many area animal rescue agencies, finds itself at full capacity, with more people calling every day to surrender animals.

“We are filled up with dogs and overflowing with cats,” said Laura Moore, HCHS board member, and volunteer. “And we just started page 11 in a full-sized legal pad of people looking to surrender their animals to us. We’re desperate for adopters – good adopters. We need to have turnover so we can accept new animals so that those animals don’t end up being turned loose, as sometimes happens.”

In addition to the cats allowed to roam the shelter’s “cat room,” 29 cages are filling every available space, containing yet more cats, Moore said.

“Those 29 cages need to be cleaned every single day,” she commented. “It’s time-consuming.”

There are currently 35 dogs up for adoption. Six of them are puppies.

“That’s when we know we’re in trouble,” Moore said. “When we can’t even adopt out puppies.”

As to why the shelter is experiencing an all-time high in the number of unwanted pets, Moore suggested there are multiple reasons.

“People don’t spay and neuter and then continue to have unwanted litters,” she said. “Often, people aren’t committed. They’re quick to surrender. Animals are a lot of work. Sometimes they need some training and problem-solving. It’s a commitment.

“People are looking for the perfect pet, and it’s hard to have a perfect shelter animal because they’ve been through some things,” Moore continued. “We really need people to step up.”

Because of the commitment involved, shelter staff works hard to vet both the animals and potential adopters.

“We have such a variety of animals available. We work really hard to match people with the right dog for them,” she said.

But the news isn’t all bad. The humane society recently took in a stray kitten that had apparently been hit by a car and suffered serious injuries that led to a tail amputation. The shelter put out a call on Facebook, and their supporters responded by donating generously to the kitten’s veterinary costs.

“It’s such a great feeling to know we do have support,” Moore said.

Pause 4 All Paws, based in Little Falls, is also experiencing record numbers of homeless animals. While primarily foster-based, Pause 4 All Paws director Johanna Stock said she herself has taken on “a plethora” of cats in need of forever homes.

“It’s kitten season, and there are a lot of feral cats in the area. Everybody is full,” Stock said, commenting that she had just received a call from a woman in Oneida County hoping to place yet more cats with Stock. “But I’m already full. More than full,” she said.

“I think the whole world is a little crazy right now, and it’s overflowing to our pets,” Stock reasoned. “I think part of the problem is that the cost of everything has gone up, therefore, the cost of owning a pet has gone up.”

The humane society and Pause 4 All Paws are feeling those rising costs as well.

“Our monthly vet bill has increased about $3,000 from what it was six months ago,” Moore said.

The area has also been seeing an increase in animal abuse and neglect cases, leading to more cats, dogs, and sometimes livestock in need of new homes, Stock said.

“I’m not sure if there is actually more abuse going on or if it is a case of people becoming more educated about it and aware and so bringing it to the attention of the authorities,” she said.

For those interested in helping out local animal rescues, both Pause 4 All Paws and the Herkimer County Humane Society are always in need of non-clumping cat litter and food. The humane society requires lots of canned dog food in particular. Moore explained that the staff packs the food into hollow bone toys and freezes them to then give to the dogs for the long, lonely overnights.

Money is always welcome and put to good use. To donate to the humane society, visit their website at To donate to Pause 4 All Paws, visit their Facebook page at or mail a check or money order to PO Box 846, Little Falls, NY 13365.