Capital Region Cares Capital Region Cares 2017-2018 - Page 40

n Feature E That’s no small task. Across Sacramento county, every ven though some of the animals at the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary are illegal to keep as pets year 35,000 animals enter either Front Street, the County in California, people still figure out a way to of Sacramento’s shelter or the Sacramento SPCA. In 2016, get their hands on them, according to Jill Lute- nearly 11,000 dogs and cats came into the Front Street shelter, with 9,180 leaving, either as adoptions, transfers Faust, the sanctuary’s lead senior zookeeper. “The exotic pet trade is huge and people can get every- or were returned home. This follows a continual — but thing from a hedgehog to a tiger very easily,” Lute-Faust drastic — increase in animals leaving the shelter since says. “It’s not hard. Whether it’s illegal or not, if people 2011. “If you just look at the City of Sacramento, it’s esti- want something they get it.” The sanctuary works with a wide range of critters, in- mated that 250,000 cats and dogs live in the city limits cluding injured animals, illegal pets or domestic pets that ... that’s pets that people own, so the volume is tremen- their owners decided they didn’t want or are unable to dous,” Knepp says. While that 35,000 number includes lost animals or care for. The facility currently houses everything from a prairie dog, to macaws, kinkajous, parrots, monkeys and those relinquished by their owners, it also includes aban- doned pets. It’s not unheard of, black bears. “All of the ani- Knepp says, for people to drive mals that live here, they real- up to one of Sacramento’s shelters ly can’t live anywhere else,” and just leave the animal behind. Lute-Faust says. Front Street’s cameras also of- But the sanctuary’s capac- ten show people, under the cover ity is limited: “We’re pretty of darkness, dropping animals much always full,” Lute-Faust off in boxes, leaving them tied to says. For the most part, the the doors or even going as far as only way space opens up is to toss them over the fence. “It’s a when an animal dies, and they — Jill Lute-Faust, senior zookeeper, crime, but most people don’t look accept less than 1 percent of at it that way, and don’t realize the animals that are brought Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary they’re A: breaking state law, and to their attention. B: leaving a living creature to fend “We [already] have ani- mals that need homes,” Lute-Faust says. “We don’t need for itself,” Knepp says. Pet abandonment doesn’t always happen at the shel- to contribute to the pet population with exotic pets as well.” And as Sacramento continues to grow as a city, so ters, either. Knepp mentioned that grocery stores will call too is it important to remember the needs of its pet pop- them about pets who have been tied up outside and left. And during evictions, it’s “extremely common” for the ulace. tenants to leave the property without their pets, she says. Knepp also stresses honesty for people who have to REALITIES OF ANIMAL SHELTERS Supporting Sacramento’s pet population is far from a new surrender their animals, and says they don’t have to be endeavor: The Front Street Animal Shelter dates back to scared about being judged: “We want to help people and the 1850s, according to Manager Gina Knepp. The facility their pets. It’s not just about the animals, but it’s about is a municipal shelter — part of the City of Sacramento — the people who love them and own them.” but is also supported by the nonprofit Friends of the Front Street Shelter. NO ROOM AT THE INN “Our primary focus is to take in lost, stray, abandoned, Without their owners, some domestic animals may be injured, sick animals that end up away from their people able to survive in a new humanless environment, but for for whatever reason and either get them back to their others the situation is much more bleak. “By putting an rightful owners if that’s appropriate, or get them new unneutered male cat back into the wild, he now has a bio- homes,” Knepp says. logical imperative to hunt for and capture territory,” Sac- “We don’t need to contribute to the pet population with exotic pets.” 40 CAPITAL REGION CARES 2017 | comstocksmag.com