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Published: Tuesday, 1/14/2014 - Updated: 9 months ago

Rescue groups see surge in puppies

Organizations are puzzled by sudden increase

BY ALEXANDRA MESTER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Michelle Lawrence, animal-care supervisor for the Toledo Area Humane Society, holds two of the three husky-mix puppies at the Maumee shelter. All three puppies will be in foster care for two weeks and then be available for adoption. Michelle Lawrence, animal-care supervisor for the Toledo Area Humane Society, holds two of the three husky-mix puppies at the Maumee shelter. All three puppies will be in foster care for two weeks and then be available for adoption.
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Some area animal rescue groups have been baffled in recent weeks by a sudden surge in the number of puppies entering their programs.

Planned Pethood is currently caring for eight litters, totaling 45 puppies. Counting the four pups that were recently adopted out, the organization had been caring for as many as 49.

Executive Director Nikki Morey said the organization hasn’t seen a number that high since probably the 1990s.

PHOTO GALLERY: Husky mix sisters

“There weren’t as many rescue groups then, and we didn’t have Humane Ohio,” she said, referring to the area’s low-cost spay/​neuter clinic in Toledo. “We normally don’t have this many.”

The Toledo Area Humane Society has had 28 puppies in its shelter since the beginning of the year, and has another dozen in foster care.

“It’s definitely unusual for us this time of year,” Dr. Debbie Johnson, veterinarian and director of operations, said. “These are higher numbers than what we’ve seen the last couple of years. For a while, it was uncommon for us to have puppies at all.”

The Lucas County Pit Crew is caring for 21 puppies, including six “pit bull” puppies born over the weekend at Lucas County Canine Care & Control.

“We’ve never had this many at any one time,” Jean Keating, executive director, said. “There weren’t all that many puppies in the spring or summer. It just doesn’t make much sense why we have them all now.”

About half of the pups with the Pit Crew are from Lucas County Canine Care & Control and the other half were surrendered by their owners.

“We don’t normally get very many from owners,” Ms. Keating said. “We mostly take them from the county.”

Ms. Keating said many of the puppies the group has now are too young to be adopted yet.

Julie Lyle, director of Lucas County Canine Care & Control, said her shelter has handled a few litters of puppies lately, but nothing she would consider unusual. So far this month, the county has seen 18 puppies.

“It comes and goes, but we don’t see tons and tons of puppies,” Ms. Lyle said. “We get pregnant moms more than litters.”

Pregnant dogs and litters of young puppies are typically transferred to other rescue groups as soon as possible, she said.

Likewise, Toledo Animal Shelter also hasn’t been inundated with puppies or calls about them, according to Executive Director Helen Bensch. Because of limited space there, Ms. Bensch noted such calls are often referred to other rescues.

Three of the eight litters at Planned Pethood were transferred to the group from the county dog shelters in Lucas and Wood counties. The other five litters were all surrendered by their owners and are presumed to be the result of unintentional breeding.

“Why don’t people get their animals fixed?” Ms. Morey said. “We keep asking that.”

When someone surrenders a litter of pups, Planned Pethood tries to get possession of the mother as well to keep her with her offspring until they are old enough to be separated.

“Some people want mom back, some people don’t,” Ms. Morey said. “Either way, we try to get her spayed. We do everything we can to persuade them to have everybody else in their house spayed or neutered so it doesn’t happen again.”

Dr. Johnson said six of the humane society puppies are involved in a cruelty case. For the rest, about half were transferred from other shelters and the other half were surrendered.

“We have been taking in more animals in general as well,” she said. “It’s from owners not spaying and neutering their pets. These aren’t ones that were purposely bred. I don’t know if the economy is affecting people where they aren’t spaying and neutering their pets or what.”

But the good news is that if they can be rescued, puppies tend to be adopted quickly. Fourteen puppies were adopted from the humane society over the weekend alone.

“Puppies usually do go quickly,” Dr. Johnson said. “Honestly, we kind of like it sometimes when we don’t have puppies because then the adult dogs get looked at more.”

Contact Alexandra Mester: amester@theblade.com, 419-724-6066, or on Twitter @AlexMesterBlade.



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