KANSAS CITY, Kan. - They used to comb the streets looking for dogs. But now they're looking for dog owners.
Outreach workers from Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption are trying to tackle the problem of pet shelter overcrowding by going to its source -- neighborhoods. That means locating people as well as animals.
The pet shelter's outreach coordinator said unwanted pets often result when a dog in a neighborhood gives birth to a large litter of puppies, and the dog owner gives them away to neighbors. The new pet owners often fail to get those puppies spayed and neutered, resulting in a new cycle of unwanted births.
The outreach team of Shirley Lozano and Kristen Saluto spent Wednesday afternoon going door to door in Kansas City, Kan., looking for residents to give them information about pets in the neighborhood. They used to canvass neighborhoods looking only for pets, following up with owners later to encourage spay and neutering.
But now they are looking for people first, hoping to establish a relationship. Lozano said they find out about more pets this way.
She also said the trust they build with neighbors by bringing them free dog food and other needed items like straw pays off when it's time to convince them to get their pets spayed and neutered.
"If we approach people the right way," Lozano said. "They're more receptive and they appreciate the help and what we're trying to do."
Unleashed can link people with free spay and neutering. Lozano could not give a specific number, but said the new approach has resulted in an increase of spayed and neutered pets.