Kathy Antoniotti

Puppy and kitten season in the early summer means an influx of abandoned animals at Summit County Animal Control.

Fortunately, there have been only two occasions in the past four years when shelter workers have had to even think about euthanizing adoptable dogs.

Staffers say the situation became dire again this week when in a single day dogs arrived by the double digits, leaving only one available spot for the next stray.

“I started shuffling them around and opened a few spaces in intake,” said Carrie Goffe, shelter administrative assistant.

In situations like this, staffers have been known to offer foster care for the dogs at their homes.

“By law, we are not allowed to get full and turn stray animals away. We have to hold them for a minimum of three days and licensed dogs for 10. That can work against us,” said Craig Stanley, the county director of administrative services.

Those animals can’t be offered for adoption until owners have a chance to claim them.

On Tuesday, Goffe began contacting local rescue groups asking them to take a few animals, giving the shelter time to make room for the inevitable flurry that comes this time of year.

“We haven’t had to euthanize an adoptable dog for more than four years,” Stanley said. “But there have been some tense moments.”

This week was one of them, he admitted.

As for cats, the facility has not euthanized an adoptable feline since last year, Stanley said.

Before the animal control agency moved to the new $3 million building in 2010, it began holding an adoption event each year, offering discounted prices that provides two advantages: It finds homes for the majority of the animals at the shelter and it gives the staff the opportunity to do a good general cleaning of the facility with fewer animals to look after.

The new 19,500-square-foot building also provides lots of space for kittens and cats, and 100 cages for dogs, up from the 60 available in the former building on North Street.

With a new surgical suite, Dr. Cynthia Arends, the shelter’s veterinarian the past seven years, has been able to spay or neuter each adopted animal before it leaves the shelter, while also providing vaccinations and other necessary medical treatment and tests. Medical treatment costs are covered in adoption fees.

With the help of animal rescue groups in the Summit County Animal Coalition, and programs such as PetSmart Charities Rescue Waggin, adoptions of cats and dogs rose from 344 a year at the old facility to more than 2,200 in 2012.

But even those nonprofit groups have been hit hard, often with more animals than they can quickly place, said Jen D’Aurelio, executive director of Paws & Prayers animal rescue.

“We get the majority of our animals from Summit County Animal Control,” she said. “Due to the enormous influx, we have stepped up our efforts to help.”

The rescue group will offer the pets they are fostering during a special adoption event today at the PetSmart in Chapel Hill.

“If we can find home for these animals, we can pull more, opening up a few more cages at the shelter,” D’Aurelio said Friday.

The county is scheduled to hold its annual adoption event later this summer to find homes for the hundreds of animals currently at the shelter. Those animals will soon be replaced by a whole new group of strays, said Stanley.

Without the support from local rescue groups and the 200 or more dogs that have been adopted through Rescue Waggin each year, there is no doubt the county would still be in the business of euthanizing adoptable animals, he said.

“We are really proud of our adoptions and rescue rates and our euthanasia rates are some of the lowest in the state. We want to keep it that way,” Stanley said.

Summit County Animal Control, 250 Opportunity Parkway, is staffed from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; until 7 p.m. on Wednesday and until 3 p.m. on Saturday. The facility is closed on Sundays and holidays.

Adoptable animals can be seen at the shelter or at www.petfinder.com/shelters/oh423.html. The adoption fee for dogs is $90; cats are $60.

For more information, call 330-643-2845.

Anyone wishing to foster a homeless dog or cat for Paws & Prayers should contact D’Aurelio online at jen@paws&prayers.org. Adoptable dogs will be available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at PetSmart, 355 Howe Ave., Cuyahoga Falls, at the discounted price of $50.

Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or kantoniotti@thebeaconjournal.com.