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Overwhelmed Shelter Project

Waters Legal, LLC is working to assist rescues, shelters, and fosters to prevent and understand "overwhelming." Overwhelming typically occurs when the costs of providing for the nonhumans in one's care exceed the resources flowing into the rescue, shelter, or foster family. Overwhelm happens to organizations and people with the best of intentions but can impact the quality of care provided to the nonhumans in their care. Continue perusing each section to learn about Overwhelming, how to prevent it, and resources for mitigating overwhelming while it's happening. 

Overview of Shelter Overwhelm

Overwhelm refers to a situation in which animal shelters or rescues become overcrowded with more animals than they can properly care for or accommodate. This can be due to a variety of reasons, such as an increase in the number of stray or abandoned animals, natural disasters, or other emergencies. Shelter overwhelm can lead to a variety of challenges, including inadequate space, resources, and staffing to meet the needs of all the animals in the facility. It can also result in higher euthanasia rates, as shelters may not have the capacity to care for and find homes for all the animals in their care.

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Contrasting Shelter Overwhelm to Hoarding Situations

While both shelter overwhelm and animal hoarding involve situations where animals are housed in overcrowded conditions, the causes and solutions for each are very different. Shelter overwhelm is typically a temporary situation that can be addressed through increased adoptions, fostering, and transfer of animals to other shelters. Animal hoarding is a serious animal welfare issue that requires intervention from animal control agencies and mental health professionals to ensure the safety and well-being of both the animals and the hoarder.

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Applicable Laws

While animal welfare laws apply to both shelter overwhelm and animal hoarding situations, the legal and regulatory frameworks that govern these issues are different, reflecting the different circumstances and types of animal care situations involved.

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These are just a few examples of the many resources available to those facing shelter overwhelm. Local animal welfare organizations and veterinary clinics may also offer support and resources for managing shelter populations.

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