The Sioux Falls Area Humane Society is taking in more animals than ever before. From cats to dogs, to horses and rats, the shelter is bursting beyond its means and it's only expected to get worse in the coming months.
During a time when it's difficult to get even small pet food donations, the no-kill shelter hopes community donations will help build a new building to meet the growing need.
In the back annex building, a stray cat gives birth to five tiny kittens at the Sioux Falls Area Humane Society Thursday.
The mother cat was picked up the day before and Executive Director Kori Baade is doing her best to warm up a struggling kitten.
The cold, noisy back room isn't nearly ideal for births, but at this point, it's the only available option for Kennel Manager Monique Mixell.
"We're always hard up for space," Mixell said. "No matter what season it is, whether it is more kittens or dogs, we're always running low on space."
Despite the facility being just ten years old, it's quickly outgrown its current size on the east side of Sioux Falls.
While other shelters across the country are forced to put down animals to make room for new ones, this no-kill organization is forced to get creative.
"We've even had to use our 'get acquainted' rooms for space, the ones where people meet animals in there," Baade said.
Every employee office houses animals, like this unsocialized dog that never had human contact before coming to the shelter.
Up to 80 foster families are taking care of dogs and cats because the shelter just can't keep up.
"Last weekend, I think Saturday we had over 40 animals come in. Sunday, we had over 40 animals come in. And in those two days, we only did 40 adoptions. So you're looking at 80 coming in and 40 going out," Baade said.
Right now, the humane society sees about 10,000 animals annually, but next year, 15,000 are expected, which is why management needs to find a solution to their space issues fast.
Within the next year, Baade wants to build another structure to house sick, injured and pregnant animals on the property.
The expansion is in the very early stages, with a price tag likely to reach anywhere from $500,000 to one million dollars.
"We don't want anything fancy," Baade said. "It doesn't matter what it looks like. We are looking for a good shell of a building that has proper air conditioning and heat."
"The need is there for somebody to take care of these unwanted pets and when there is no room or no money, it makes it really hard for us to try to do what is best for everybody," Mixell said.
While donations have only reached $10,000 so far, Baade hopes the community steps up to support them while they help the homeless animal population.
"But the thing is about it, we have to be there for them and so does the public," Baade said. "Somebody has to be there for them."
Baade contributes the rise in animals at the shelter to the economy, unspayed and unneutered pets, and irresponsible owners.
If you would like to help the non-profit, call (605) 338-4441.