OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) — The Weber County Animal Shelter is nearing 200 percent capacity and may have to start euthanizing animals after becoming a no-kill shelter back in 2017. 

For at least one dozen dogs, an adoption date has been set for September 26. If not adopted by that date, the dogs will be the first to be put down. To encourage their adoption, the shelter has waived adoption fees.  

The sound of barking dogs and meowing cats echoes down the shelter halls. As of late, the sound is louder than usual and carries an eerie tone. Almost as if the animals are aware of what their fate may soon be if they are not adopted.  

“We are going to have to put deadlines on some of these animals to get adopted or we’re going to have to choose to euthanize which is something that goes against our grain, but we have no other choice,” Weber County Animal Shelter Adoption Specialist Lisa Weiss told ABC4.

The thought of it, she said, has her devastated.  

According to Weiss, the shelter is way over capacity with more than 100 dogs and 240 cats currently in its care.

Weiss gave ABC4 a tour of the facility. Some kennels are doubled up with animals, quarantine areas have been converted into temporary containment areas for strays and dozens of kittens are still too young to be adopted out. It feels almost as if the animal shelter is bursting from the seams.  

Weiss remarks that the shelter often runs at near capacity. However, they are always lucky enough to adopt out a few more animals every month than they take in. That is not the case anymore and it means the no-kill shelter is facing a devastating future. On September 26, 2023, a handful of its longest residents will be put down if they are not adopted before then.  

“It’s very hard for our employees,” stated Weiss. “A lot of them will probably, you know, get compassion fatigued. It is a real thing. We care for these animals. We work with them and then suddenly we have to euthanize them because we have no space.”  

The shelter currently has just over one dozen dogs that are facing this sad fate. These dogs have been in the shelter the longest. Weiss said she hopes to get every animal adopted before the 45-day mark. However, that isn’t always the case with the bigger dogs. A handful have been at the shelter for nearly 100 days. One dog, named Max, is quickly approaching 200 days.   

“These 15 really need homes. It’s just not fair to keep them here longer than they have been.”  

The adoption fees have been waived for the 15 dogs that face being put down. Weiss said at the shelter, they never consider euthanizing a healthy animal unless a judge has ordered it due to safety concerns. She said they are all struggling with the idea of losing animals simply because they have been overlooked by potential adopters.  

The goal is obviously to adopt out every animal that is on the deadline. However, in a perfect world, Weiss said they would be able to get 45 dogs and 45 cats into loving homes.

While the dogs that are on the deadline have their adoption fees waived, Weiss said potential adopters will find that other dogs and cats have their fees waived, or reduced, as well thanks to donations.

If you are not in a position to adopt yourself but would like to pay the fees of an animal, click here.  

“She’s a border collie that was caught in a raccoon trap,” Cindi Colegrove told ABC4. She and her husband have adopted two dogs from the shelter in recent years.

For the last three years, Colegrove has also donated her time to walk the shelter’s dogs. She added: “If we don’t walk them, they’re not going to be able to get any time outside of their kennels and they really just need to get rid of some of their energy and get out in the sunshine.”

Colegrove, like Weiss, is devastated by the overcrowding that’s happening. “If you want to give back, I highly recommend volunteering for the shelters and adopting cats and dogs from here,” she said.   

Full Send Only Dog Training is also disheartened by the idea of the shelter having to euthanize its dogs. Since the beginning of the year, FSO trainers have been volunteering at the shelter on a weekly basis to get the dogs out in the yard and give them group play dates.  

“The dogs socialize with each other, get used to each other, fix some of their excitable issues since they spend so much time in the kennels,” Dog Trainer Michael Ruth told ABC4.  

“They are not bad dogs,” Head Dog Trainer Z Vahan said, referring to shelter dogs. “They are phenomenal dogs. I have met some of the sweetest, most compassionate, most loving dogs of all types here at the shelter.”  

“It’s just really upsetting when you think about it and it’s not because the shelter is not trying, it’s just because we literally don’t have the hands to help all these dogs,” Head Dog Trainer Kayleigh Albury stated.  

One thing the group wants potential adopters to know is that a dog they see in a shelter kennel is not the dog they will see outside. By having more resources to get the dogs out more frequently, FSO believes more dogs would be adopted because people would see their full potential as pets.  

Shelter dogs having the potential to be good pets is something the shelter would also like for people to understand. “They were somebody’s animal at one point,” Weiss stated. “They are nice dogs.”