BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Some shelters in Birmingham and in Shelby County have been ‘no kill’ shelters for years but are having to reconsider that because there isn’t enough room to keep up with the number of cats and dogs being brought in on a daily basis.

“We are doing everything we can to be humane with these animals, but when you’re bursting at the seams, just the idea of having that many animals is not the best state to be in,” says Saundra Ivey, executive director of Shelby Humane Society.

Ivey says their shelter has a capacity of 180 animals total but currently they’re housing 256 dogs and 71 cats with 155 animals in foster care.

“100% increase in the owner surrender intake so there’s something that’s going on with the owner surrenders,” says Ivey. “We have a jar with colored beads in it and we’re comparing this year’s beads in the jar to last year’s beads and that’s how we really started looking at ‘my gosh, this is twice as high as it was last year.’”

Shelby County isn’t the only shelter seeing increases, the Greater Birmingham Humane Society says it’s seen a 15% increase in intakes from this point last year.

“We had some numbers where we were curious whether it was going back up from the pandemic levels or if it was going to surpass the numbers from the years before and some of those numbers from the end of last year surpassed the numbers from the years before,” says Chris Angst, field services supervisor of the Animal Care and Control division of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society. “We are technically busier than ever before.”

Some say this overcrowding could be an indicator of the economy and people no longer being able to afford to care for pets.

“We have a food pantry, supply pantry, we keep a place out there so they can pick it up at any time. We offer low cost spay and neuter services, vaccine clinics, anything to help them with that but sometimes by that time, it’s come to that point, they’re going to surrender it.” says Ivey.

Shelters around the region say some of the biggest fixes for this overcrowding are spaying and neutering your pets, unless you’re a certified breeder, and getting them microchipped so they can be identified and returned if they run away.