A pair of puppies peer out from their kennel at BARC Houston on Wednesday, June 28, 2023 in Houston. Area shelters expect more dogs to arrive on their doorstep as post-holiday returns — an annual intake influx that usually begins after New Year’s Eve.    

A pair of puppies peer out from their kennel at BARC Houston on Wednesday, June 28, 2023 in Houston. Area shelters expect more dogs to arrive on their doorstep as post-holiday returns — an annual intake influx that usually begins after New Year’s Eve.    

Brett Coomer/Staff photographer

A litter of 10 bottle baby puppies were left on the doorstep of Brazoria County’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Tuesday night. 

The puppies were in desperate need of foster homes. At just a couple weeks old, they required round-the-clock care and attention, the organization said in a Facebook post asking for volunteers.

Five families came to the rescue Wednesday and agreed to foster two puppies each, said Nicole Hardesty, executive director of the SPCA of Brazoria County. The organization gave each family the supplies needed to care for the puppies.

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The fur babies may soon find permanent homes when they become available for adoption in February. However, the shelter expects dozens more to arrive on their doorstep as post-holiday returns — an annual intake influx that usually begins after New Year’s Eve.

Holiday adoption trends

The SPCA of Brazoria County, located at 141 Canna Lane in Lake Jackson, had roughly 200 animals adopted from its shelter in December. 

The shelter only has room for 138 dogs, depending on the size, and about 100 cats. It had 330 animals in its care as of late December.

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“That’s a reasonable number of animals for us to be caring for in the shelter and in foster homes,” Hardesty said. Some of the animals were also transported to partner shelters in the Pacific Northwest, she added.

But the influx in adoptions during the holiday season only lasts for a couple weeks.

About 10 to 15% of animals adopted during the holidays are returned to the shelter after New Year’s Eve by families who decide they don’t have the means to take care of an animal, according to Hardesty.

Changes in housing or finances are some of the most common reasons people surrender their pets to shelters, she said.

Families in Brazoria County who are worried about the ability to keep their pets due to financial struggles can reach out to the SPCA to receive free food and other supplies for their dogs or cats.

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“We’re piloting a new program now where we’re trying to help people keep their pets,” Hardesty said. “We’ll give them dog food and minimal veterinary care. We’ve partnered with local groomers and local trainers to be able to get them grooming and training services.”

What to expect when adopting

Families who are looking to adopt an animal should do their research and spend time with animals they’re planning to adopt, Hardesty said. 

The SPCA of Brazoria County allows potential adopters to take a dog out for the day or let them sleep over at their home with all necessary supplies through its Doggie Day Out and Doggy Sleepover programs. 

“It takes three days for them to get used to their new surroundings, three weeks to acclimate to their new situation and three months to really settle into their new life,” she said. “They really need to have time to decompress and to really feel safe in their new environment.”

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How to help animals at the shelter

Volunteering, donating supplies and monetary donations are some ways people can help the shelter.

Volunteers complete tasks such as walking dogs and playing with cats to keep the animals active. Interested potential volunteers must fill out an application.

The shelter is always accepting supply donations such as paper towels, dish soap, laundry soap and cat and dog food for its Animeals program.

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