Every week the number of animals surrendered to the local animal welfare society increases but the number of adoptions is on a rapid decline, according to Carol Pendergraft, local AWS member.

“If the number of animals can't be reduced through increased adoptions, there are only two options,” Pendergraft said. “More animals will either be euthanized or more foster homes and volunteers will have to be recruited.”

According to Pendergraft, the problem is not due to lack of space or money - “There are simply not enough volunteers and foster homes to care for such a large number of animals.”

Whether it's the economy, gas prices, hot weather or problems created by the wave of disasters the area has suffered in the past year, the number of animals being adopted has fallen way below last year's average.

As a result, there are too many animals being housed at the adoption center, according to Pendergraft. She fears the center may have to discontinue the weekly “surrender day” if the number of adoptions doesn't increase.

In addition to the typical assortment of shepherd mixes, lab mixes, and pit bull mixes, the center has an amazing number of small and full blood animals.

“We probably have the best variety we have ever had,” said Pendergraft. “So, we really don't understand why they are not being adopted.”

Among the canines at the center, Pendergraft said there are “many wonderful pets.”

“Della,” a female Boston terrier that's less than a year old; “Manny,” a male miniature pinscher between 1 and 2 years old; “Suzie,” a powder-puff Chinese Crested dog; a Sealyham terrier, a Maltese, an older shihtzu and several small undetermined “lap dogs.”

Among the small mix breed dogs, Pendergraft said the center has several poodle mixes, a Pekinese mix, a chihuahua rat terrier mix and a litter of rat terrier-corgi mixes.

“We have beautiful cats and kittens, several Siamese mixes and Maine Coon mixes.”

Pendergraft said an allergic owner surrendered two “beautiful, declawed cats … We have kittens of all ages,” Pendergraft said. “Including one that looks just like an Egyptian Mau. We also have several that are going to be beautiful long-haired cats.”

When the shelter has more animals that it can handle, the animals don't get the care and attention they need.

“Vaccinations fall behind schedule, animals may be housed two ore more to a cage and inevitably animals start getting sick - much like colds and flu are spread from one student to another in the classroom,” Pendergraft said.

AWS members are begging for volunteers and foster families.

“If we had even 10 more volunteers who could commit to two or three hours a week to help care for the animals, we could accommodate the number of animals we have and possibly more,” Pendergraft said.

A better solution, according to Pendergraft, would be more families willing to foster an animal or two.

“Most of our foster families find that it is both fun and rewarding to foster animals and, although they love their foster animals, they are thrilled when the animal finds a loving new home,” Pendergraft said.

Pendergraft said she knows there are many retired people in the community who could find volunteering very rewarding and educational.

“Most of the work isn't strenuous and doesn't require any special skills,” Pendergraft said. “But there are always jobs that require some muscle - lifting cages, bags of food and litter, making repairs, building fences, painting, etc. We could really use some man-power.”

Anyone interested in volunteering or fostering can drop by the adoption center for more information to sign up.

“Anytime there are cars parked near the back door, there is probably someone there,” Pendergraft said. “We are always there on adoption days - 1 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.”

There is currently no phone service at the adoption center - something the society is working to resolve. In the meantime, interested persons can call 533-1281 or 542-3413 to volunteer.