Animal rescue stops intake facing overwhelming need, difficulty applying | Local News

Animal rescue stops intake facing overwhelming need, difficulty applying |  Local News

Crystal Hopson went on a week-long vacation and ignored her email.

Hopson is a founder of Hartman’s Haven Dog Rescue in Conover. She spends her days trying to solve the growing problem of too many animals and not enough homes.

When she returned from vacation, Hopson had more than 100 emails from people looking to surrender animals to her rescue. In addition to the emails, several adopted dogs were being returned and the local shelters had animals that needed to be rescued.

It was too much for her to handle.

“It gets completely overwhelming,” she said tearfully. “You feel like you’re dipping your way out of the ocean with a teaspoon. People don’t want to do any work to keep their pets and, instead, they try to push their problems off on rescue groups.”

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  • Animal rescue stops intake facing overwhelming need, difficulty applying

In June, Hopson decided to stop taking in any more animals. After 12 years of running the rescue, it was too hard to continue, she said. Getting animals adopted was getting more difficult. Without spay and neuter laws, the number of stray animals was growing out of hand, she said.

In her time running her rescue, Hopson helped find homes for more than 10,700 dogs and cats from shelters in Catawba, Caldwell, Burke, Alexander and Iredell counties, she said.

Hartman worked with shelters in some northern states, where spay and neuter laws have decreased the number of stray animals. There, the demand for animals to adopt is high, Hopson said. In recent years, more rescues have followed suit, saturating the market in northern states and again making it difficult to find people to adopt animals, Hopson said.

“It gets harder and harder to move animals,” she said. The difficulty in finding people to adopt animals is a large part of the reason Hopson is stopping intake for Hartman’s Haven.

“After 12 years working the rescue, it’s almost like you get burnout fatigue,” Hopson said. “I didn’t want to make this decision.”

The rescue still has 14 dogs available to adopt.

Hartman’s Haven’s rescue efforts are a success, Hopson said.

Rescues are part of the reason the number of animals euthanized in shelters is decreasing, Catawba County Assistant Emergency Services Director Mark Pettit said. At the Catawba County Animal Services shelter, the euthanasia rate was about 70% in 2010, according to data from the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. For the 2020-21 fiscal year, the euthanasia rate was 28%, according to data from the county.

The decrease is a positive improvement, but without more efforts to spay and neuter animals, euthanasia will continue, Hopson said.

“I think the biggest help will be getting your pets spayed and neutered so we didn’t continuously have the overpopulation we have of puppies and kittens being born and nobody wants them,” she said.

Catawba County is working to get animals that come into the shelter fixed. The county recently hired a full-time veterinarian to manage those.

Hopson is redirecting her love for animals towards spay and neuter efforts. She plans to start a fund to help people pay to have their animals fixed if they can’t afford it, and help transport animals if needed.

Hopson also plans to start helping people who can’t afford to pay emergency veterinary bills, she said.

Hopson sees the only solution to the stray animal problem is to require people to get their animals fixed, she said. She isn’t hopeful the laws will be created.

“We’ve tried to get those laws here, but there’s a mentality in southern states that animals are property, not family members,” she said. And people don’t want to be told what to do with their property.”

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