Despite being closed for Memorial Day, the Harris County Animal Shelter in Houston, Texas, was met with a sad surprise Tuesday when it reopened. Lee, a 1-year-old poodle trapped in a heavy coat of dirty fur, was trapped in an abandoned crate in the parking lot of the shelter.
When Lee arrived at the shelter, he was matted and covered in urine, according to Kerry McKeel, media specialist for the shelter. Lee’s owner attached a heartfelt note to the crate, which read: “CAN YOU PLEASE TAKECARE OF MY DOG?” It read: “He was very unsure and nervous. My puppy Lee is a great puppy, but I cannot afford to keep him. Lee will listen, bark, and not bite. Please do not put him down. I love him, but cannot afford to keep him. I apologize I didn’t shave him yet, but please find him a home and care for him. Thank you.
Around Memorial Day weekend, more than 200 animals were abandoned at the Harris County Shelter. In spite of being designed to hold 150 dogs and cats, the shelter was already over capacity when Lee arrived — over 375 animals needed homes. It was not uncommon for cages designed for one or two animals to hold three to four animals at once. This scared little poodle was unprepared for such a raucous atmosphere.
McKeel believes financial hardships caused by Hurricane Harvey may have contributed to the high number of pet owners surrendering their pets over the holiday weekend. Even though many owners feel forced to give up their pets due to cost or housing issues, the shelter believes there are other options available and offers spay and neuter vouchers as well as free or low-cost services for food, fencing, medical care, and others.
Harris County Animal Shelter wrote on Facebook, “We understand financial hardship, but we want to do whatever we can to keep pets with their families.” Talk to us about your circumstances before you decide to give up your pet to find out what resources we can refer you to.” It has been a few days since Lee settled into the shelter, but he has been getting the care he needs – including a haircut.
Once Lee was properly groomed and free of his heavy fur, his true personality began to shine through. Confident and always smiling, he looked completely different.
“Lee is an affectionate, very smart and spunky pup,” McKeel said. “He knows how to sit and play fetch. He certainly went from bow to wow.” In addition to McKeel, everyone at the shelter is doing their best to help Lee.
Despite his playful nature, McKeel says he is a very good dog. “I also learned that he really enjoys a Puppuccino. We went to Starbucks this morning.”
Lee’s story gives hope to the many other animals in need of care at the Harris County Animal Shelter that their futures will be brighter with the help of two interested adoptive families.