ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Kennels are full at Albuquerque’s Eastside Animal Shelter. There are than 900 pets in the city’s three animal shelters which are at capacity, and it’s been this way for more than a year. “We have about 750 kennel spaces and when we’re over 750 that means that we’re doubling up our pets or we have them in our offices,” Carolyn Ortega, the Director of Animal Welfare, said.

With adoptions slightly down and surrenders up, they’re getting creative with how to deal with the overcrowding. In recent months they have implemented a few programs that she believes are already helping, like decreasing the number of strays coming in, by adding microchip scanners in all AFR and APD substations. “Since we implemented that in July, we’ve been able to reunite about 30 pets with their families so it’s become a huge success,” Ortega said.

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And the program is expanding, soon all ACS responders will carry microchip scanners, too. Ortega said they’re also looking to hire a specialist to figure out why someone is surrendering their animal and if there’s something the shelter can do to help. “Many pets are being surrendered because of things that can be controlled so if they need pet food, we can help with that, if they need help with training, we can help with that.”

By the end of the year, the number of animals to come through the shelter in 2023 is expected to top 22,000 which is 1,300 more than last year. Ortega said they need the public’s help and patience because it may be a few years before things get back to normal. “At this point, there might be a shift in the policy where we may have to turn away non-Albuquerque residents to make sure we have the space for our pets,” Ortega said.

To help with overflow, the shelters last year started accepting animal surrenders by appointment only. That policy is still in place today. If you’d like to volunteer, donate, or become a foster parent, head to the city’s website.