Overcrowding at IC Animal Center forces price cuts

BY ZACHARY POUND | JULY 19, 2011 7:20 AM

Matt La Luz/The Daily Iowan
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Eager for a home, one gray kitten slid its paw through the bars of its cage Monday afternoon, its eye's gleaming in the fluorescent lighting of the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center.

And with the recent overcrowding at the temporary facility, 4852 Sand Road S.E., one could say that man has not been animal's best friend.

This summer, the Animal Shelter has seen an large increase in animals being brought in, which Misha Goodman, the director of the center, attributed to Iowa City's growing population and people moving.

Because of overcrowding, the shelter is selling pets who are more than 1 year old for half the normal price.

"It's unfortunate that it has to happen, but people have to move and might not be able to take their pet with them or their new place just isn't big enough," Goodman said.

Lori Henning 47, a resident of Coralville, visited the shelter with her daughter to socialize with the animals Monday afternoon.

"We have three cats, and we've adopted all of them," Henning said. "We love them very much, and they have been terrific pets."

The current shelter has reached maximum capacity with 80 cats and 28 dogs. There are also 25 cats in foster care, where people are able to take the cats home and take care of them until a permanent home is found for them.

Goodman said the center's current budget is $675,000 a year, and it costs around $15 to house an animal per day.

The animal shelter would be able to house animals, but Goodman said that would require reducing the space given to each animal — something officials don't want to do.

The center is in temporary quarters because of the 2008 flood. Shelter officials received $960,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a new shelter in June, but are still need roughly $2.5 million to build an adequate facility to house animals.

In addition to the overcrowding sale, Goodman said, the shelter also brings the animals out to such places as the Iowa City Farmers' Market to spread the word that there are animals who need homes.

The price of buying a cat ranges between $65 to $85 and dogs go between $125 to $185. This price includes having the animal spayed or neutered, vaccinated, medically screened, controlled for lice and ticks, and implanted with a tracking microchip.

Coralville resident Charlotte Tobiason,who works as a kennel assistant at the shelter with nine other full-time staff members, said the facility has been busy.

"It seems that we have more people in these summer months coming in and looking at the animals," said Tobiason, who helps with feeding, socializing, and maintaining the animals' health. "We are seeing cats being adopted at a faster rate than the dogs."

There is no time limit for how long the animals are kept at the shelter. The length of stay is usually based on their health, but it can be affected if they start to show negative signs of being locked up for a long period of time.

"We do not 'hold' the animals but instead provide the necessary space for them until we can find a home for them," Goodman said. "Sadly, if the animals become too sick or show the negative effects of being held here too long, then sometimes they need to be euthanized."

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