Too many cats overwhelm Yokosuka PAWS shelter
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Need to surrender your cat or dog? Don’t bring them to Yokosuka’s Pets Are Worth Saving animal shelter. If it were a motel, there’d be a “no vacancy” sign on the door.
The shelter is at capacity and can’t take in any more animals of any kind, PAWS president Dawn Zeumalt said Thursday.
“We just got slammed,” Zeumalt said. “We cannot accept any more animals at this point.”
The shelter currently has about 20 cats and 20 kittens. The felines have taken up all available space in the quarantine room and more cages had to be purchased to cope with the numbers.
Zeumalt attributes the overload to two factors: a warm winter and good publicity.
Mild temperatures this fall and winter threw off feline mating cycles and, judging by the age of the kittens being turned in to the shelter, she figures cats were able to mate an extra time this winter, she said.
The other issue is the rising level of public awareness, Zeumalt said. Over the last 10 years, people have become familiar with the shelter and know they can surrender their animals there, she said.
People also call in about feral cats and kittens — 114 kittens were raised through the foster care program this year, Zeumalt said. That compares with 30-40 kittens total last year, she said. And this doesn’t include dogs, ferrets, rabbits and other pets people bring to PAWS.
“We’ve seen a steady increase,” Zeumalt said. “And it’s good that people know about us. But we have a situation where there are too many people bringing animals and not enough taking animals out.”
To add some incentive, PAWS is knocking $25 off feline adoption donation fees, which means cats will cost $50 and kittens $75, she said. There are “twofur” deals with littermates, too, she said.
It’s a reasonable price, she said, considering all PAWS animals are spayed or neutered, microchipped and vaccinated for feline leukemia and feline HIV.
The private, nonprofit shelter is run by volunteers who are starting to suffer from “compassion fatigue.” Forty cats means a lot of litter boxes to clean, Zeumalt said.
“We’re always looking for more volunteers,” said Zeumalt, who will be leaving her post next year. “We need some fresh blood.”
Marine Cpl. Stephanie Barry was at the shelter Thursday to get some volunteer training, pick out a “shop kitty” for her Camp Zama command and to plan a volunteer weekend renovation project.
“We’ve got a big group of people coming,” Barry said. “We passed the word around and all the animal lovers want to help the shelter.”
PAWS adoption hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays and every third Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.