CINCINNATI — Week after week, it’s been a similar story at Hamilton County’s no-kill shelter. Dozens of cats and dogs head out for their forever homes or temporary foster stays, while a hundred or more come in as strays or owner surrenders. 

June is on track to set a record for Cincinnati Animal CARE’s intake, with the shelter peaking at 225% capacity and leaving the shelter wondering what more they can do to keep their animals in safe, roomy and temperature-controlled conditions.

What You Need To Know

  • Cincinnati Animal CARE is on track to take in 800 animals in June

  • The no-kill shelter relies on fosters and adoptions to keep the shelter from getting overcrowded

  • Dogs are staying in crates with limited space and temperature control until room opens up in the kennel 

  • The shelter waived its adoption fee during the hottest days of June to clear animals out faster

There’s no single reason the shelter can point to regarding their recent intake surge. Ray Anderson, the community relations manager, suspects it’s a combination of the annual increase in warm weather runaways, a lack of affordable pet-friendly housing and increased financial stress on local families. 

“Anytime there’s economic weirdness, like $5 a gallon gas, we start to see animals coming into a shelter as well,” he said. 

As of mid-month, Cincinnati Animal CARE has seen more than 400 animals enter the shelter, and while Anderson said they try to get them into foster or forever homes as quickly as possible, many have to spend at least a few days or weeks at the shelter waiting for a match. 

A potential foster greets dogs before finding a match.

The best place for them to pass the time is in the kennel, where they have indoor, outdoor access, room to walk around and good temperature control, but Anderson said those spots fill up quickly. To handle the overflow, the shelter has had to add crates to a few different rooms throughout the building.

“These are the guys that just got here so we want to limit the amount of time they’re in these small crates as much as possible,” Anderson said. 

Some dogs are able to find space in a few interior, lightly air-conditioned rooms, others are out in the shelter’s garage.

Anderson says a few dogs are temporarily stored in the garage while they wait for kennel space.

It never was intended to house animals, but with the sheer volume of animals coming in, it’s one of the few places we have left to put crates,” Anderson said.

During the month’s first heat wave, the community collected portable air conditioning units and fans to keep the area cool until the county could install a more permanent unit, but Anderson considers that a band-aid solution. 

“The solution is not let’s put air conditioning in here, it’s let’s get dogs out of here,” he said. 

From June 14 to 17, Cincinnati Animal CARE waived their adoption fee to try and get animals out more quickly and they were able to get nearly 100 animals in forever homes, with temporary fosters helping ease the crowding for a few days. By the end of the week, the shelter was just above double capacity.

Other Ohio shelters have reported similar troubles, Angels for Animals in Canfield, reported 254 cat surrenders in the first two weeks of June, while the Franklin County Dog & Adoption Shelter relied on donated ice and supplies to keep their animals cool after a power outage took out their air conditioning June 13 and 14.