Animal shelter

Advocacy group wants to tackle overcrowded animal shelter in San Jose

Concern about overcrowding at the San Jose Animal Care Center prompted a group of local residents to form an advocacy group called Sustain Our Shelters.

The San Jose Animal Care Center on Monterey Road has provided shelter and on-the-ground services to residents of San Jose, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Milpitas and Saratoga since 2004. As of Oct. 16, the shelter housed 459 animals, according to its website. His desired capacity is less than 300.

Erin Cizan, senior public information representative for animal services, said the shelter is currently at 90% capacity.

The immediate goals of Sustain Our Shelters are to restore San Jose’s public spaying and spaying program; to relaunch its trap-neuter-release (TNR) program for feral cats; and for the daily handover window for stray animals to be extended beyond the current five hours per day. The TNR program was temporarily halted in May due to a shortage of staff at the shelter.

The shelter continues to provide neutering services for animals already in its care, and it also continues to provide neutering services for sick or injured feral cats and kittens, who are cared for and released.

“We have over 100 dogs awaiting spaying,” Cizan said. “We need to reduce those numbers before we can open our doors to the public.”

Animal services staff said pet abandonments have remained constant over the years and have actually decreased
from 2021, but there has been an increase in the number of pet owners requesting euthanasia.

“The few owner buyouts have certainly been driven by economic reasons,” Cizan said. “The fact that we receive more requests for euthanasia is also an economic problem, because it costs us less than a private vet.”

With 127 members as of October 21, Sustain Our Shelters seeks to “create a better life for animals by actively helping Silicon Valley animal shelters provide care and adoption programs, services and raising awareness of issues that affect our pets and animals in the community,” spokeswoman Rebekah Davis-Matthews said.

Now active on various social media platforms, Sustain Our Shelters debuted with a post on Next Door from members concerned about reduced services at the San Jose shelter, according to Davis-Matthews.

“We decided we needed to get more people to our cause to help spread the word, so we recently created a Facebook group,” she said.

Staffing shortages are also of concern to members.

“The shelter needs to be fully staffed,” Davis-Matthews said. “There are two positions that have been open for months. They also lack veterinary technicians.

The San Jose Animal Care Center has a full-time medical director and two part-time veterinarians, according to Kiska Icard, animal services division manager.

“There is a national shortage of veterinarians and veterinary technicians,” Icard said. “You need a team to do the high-volume surgeries, and we’re trying to rebuild the whole team. And an essential part of this team is made up of certified veterinary technicians.

Members of Sustain Our Shelters “have various ties to the shelter and the relief community,” she added. “Each of us brings a unique perspective and experience to the group.

“My own background is being a foster home for kittens, trapping feral cats and fixing them and returning them, volunteering at the San Jose shelter with cats and running a number of lost and found animal groups on Facebook,” Davis-Matthews said.

While their backgrounds may differ, members of Sustain Our Shelters are working toward a common goal of being “collaborative and supportive with the community to achieve greater awareness and resources for shelters,” member Aly Abramowitz said during from a recent Zoom meeting.

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