Anniston animal shelter overcrowded with dogs rescued from cold

A few of the dogs at Cheaha Regional Humane Society in Calhoun County, Wednesday, January 8, 2014. (

Dozens of dogs are keeping warm at Calhoun County's animal shelter.

Most are strays, but Cheaha Regional Humane Society director Angie Persch said several dog owners did not want to take care of their pets during the cold.

"One lady called to say that she was going to bring her pet here and then she was just going to readopt it because it costs less than boarding her animal," Persch said.

"It's very upsetting when we're filled to capacity with stray animals."

Between strays and surrenders, the shelter added about 10 new dogs every day since it got cold.

"We had 30 empty cages the day before the weather hit, and we are filled to over capacity now," Persch said.

The facility has about 40 outdoor cages behind the building which have doghouses and roofs, but it was too cold this week for any of the dogs to be out there.{} A county commissioner approved the use of the Calhoun County Agricultural Center, where about 30 dogs are staying in pig pens.

Persch said it is important to find homes for all the animals, but their immediate priority is to find homes for 15 puppies rescued in Heflin.{} The dogs are from the same litter and are five to six weeks old.

"Even the temperature here--trying to keep them warm--because we're in and out the doors it's still kind of cold in the back.{} So it's very rough on these little babies," she said.

They have not had to put any animals down due to crowding, but that could change.{} All strays are kept at least seven days, but that rule doesn't apply to surrendered pets.

"If an animal is brought in by the owner and we don't have room, it could be taken back and euthanized immediately because of space but we're working to avoid that," Persch said.

"We're asking the people that call in right now--because we are so over full at this point--if it's their animal, to please hold on for a little bit so we don't have to euthanize it.""

The Calhoun County adoption fee is 20 dollars.{} The shelter does not take care of veterinary issues but can refer you to vets with discounted rates.

You must have the pet spayed or neutered, and staff requires a follow-up with the pet adopter after several months to make sure the animal is fixed.