Cold temperatures raise concerns at pet shelters

A little dog looking for a new home at the Lee County Animal Shelter. / Jessica Fairley

Songs of purrs and barks can all be heard at the Lee County Animal Shelter and behind every sound is a whisper for help.

The director for Lee County Public Works says as temperatures get colder, those voices will get louder.

"We see a lot more animals turned in and a lot more animals found on the side of the road that we pick up," says Lee County Public Works Director Mike Sistrunk.

These increased numbers crowd the kennel. After hallways are filled, there's only one place left to go.

"In the winter time we try our best to keep them in the inside if possible. If we do put them outside, we try to tarp the pens," says Mike Sistrunk.

Not only is overcrowding a problem during colder months, operational costs tend to go up as well.

"We do have heaters for the pens but it costs us more to run the heaters. Our average light bill runs us about $1,400 in the summer time," says Sistrunk.

And it's a couple hundred dollars more in the winter. Food and medication costs are also stretched to the limit. Officials say this is where the public's help is needed.

Pam Van Oteghem has adopted two dogs from the shelter. Her pooch, Pixie, is now healthy, but Pam remembers how the animal arrived.

"Pixie was a mess. I dropped by to drop off some dog food and someone had dropped a little dog off taped up in a cardboard box and that was Pixie," says pet owner Pam Oteghem.

The animal came weighing only six pounds, covered in pine needles with bits of window screen wrapped inside her fur. Vet professionals had to cut the matted hair out so that the dog could walk.

"When I saw her I said don't even put her up for adoption," says Pam Oteghem.

Before entering the doors of the shelter, Pixie had found a home. Something vet officials want for all the animals.