A wave of adoptions spared the lives of 68 dogs that were on the brink of euthanasia at Riverside County animal shelters, officials said, but workers at shelters in Thousand Palms and Jurupa Valley continued pleading with the public to consider adding a pet to their homes.
On Wednesday alone, there were 57 adoptions, while another 37 animals were sent to rescue groups, animal services officials said. Last Saturday, the shelters in Jurupa Valley and Thousand Palms waived all adoption fees indefinitely in hopes of encouraging people to take a pet home.
"We're at maximum capacity and we need the public's help to immediately improve the outcomes of dogs and cats currently in our care," county Animal Services Director Erin Gettis said.
On Saturday, the county was caring for more than 800 animals -- 263 in Thousand Palms and 573 in Jurupa Valley. With the announcement of waived fees, they emphasized that the trend of animals being brought into shelters was unsustainable.
Both shelters were seeing an abundance of large-breed dogs, which are often less favored by people seeing a furry companion, officials said.
Following the plea from the animal shelters, the post was picked up by animal activists on social media, hoping to rescue the dogs before their euthanization date on Thursday. The posts led to a flood in adoptions throughout the week, Animal Services spokesman John Welsh told City News Service.
While the effort saved the animals that were red-listed, the Riverside County Department of Animal Services was still working to find long-term ways to address overpopulation and mitigate the ongoing shelter crisis.
In May, 1,013 animals -- 927 strays -- were impounded, and 386 animals -- 363 strays -- were impounded since Monday alone, according to Welsh.
He noted that the county still had to euthanize 54 animals, many because they were either sick, extremely sick or they had untreatable behavior or medical issues.
Welsh added that while 94 animals were rescued through adoptions or transfers to rescue groups this week, nearly 100 more were impounded by officers and surrendered by the public at shelters.
"That's kind of why we're pleading to the public for help," Welsh said. "This is not sustainable. This equation has to end. By having the public help us with better pet responsibility... there's no way any animal organization can keep up with the numbers we're dealing with right now."
He recommended that people adopt, sign up to volunteer, foster, microchip, get collars or tags, and spread the word on the importance of combating pet overpopulation.
"Not just for one week, not just because somebody went on Tik Tok and said that we're going to put these animals down,'' said Welsh.
In an effort to help the shelter combat overpopulation, the Mead Valley Community Center hosted a free vaccination clinic on Thursday. The Coachella Valley Animal Campus in La Quinta will host another vaccination clinic with free vaccinations and microchips available on a first-come, first-served basis May 19 starting at 10 a.m.