"We are very full, overfull"

Many animal shelters are reaching their limits this summer. On the one hand, there are rising costs: energy, food and vet visits are becoming more expensive. On the other hand, the number of animals that need a place is still extremely high. The third challenge is the lack of income. A look at the situation of the animal shelters in the districts of Erding and Freising as well as the sanctuary in Kirchasch shows that the problems are getting bigger and bigger.

There are currently 70 to 80 animals in the Freising animal shelter. The situation is similar in Erding, where other animals are housed in an outdoor foster home. “We are very full, overfull,” says Solveig Wanninger, second chairman of the Erdinger animal shelter. Joseph Popp, chairman of the Freising institution, can confirm this. They even had to turn down 30 dogs in the past six weeks, he says. Also at the sanctuary in Kirchasch “the seats are full,” says Kristina Berchtold, spokeswoman for the Munich Animal Welfare Association, which runs the sanctuary. About 145 animals are there, many of them for a longer period of time. They are usually difficult to place, others are relocated to Kirchasch due to the stress in the city of Munich.

Animal shelters in Bavaria: Joseph Popp is a volunteer on the board, like so many others in the association. But he gets to feel: "All clubs suffer from a lack of volunteers", the animal shelter is also affected.

Joseph Popp holds the position on the board on a voluntary basis, like so many others in the association. But he gets to feel: “All clubs suffer from a lack of volunteers”, the animal shelter is also affected.

(Photo: Marco Einfeldt)

Animal shelters in Bavaria: Cats make up the majority of the animals in Erding and Freising. The picture shows the black cat Mimi, who is housed in Erding.

Cats make up the majority of the animals in Erding and Freising. The picture shows the black cat Mimi, who is housed in Erding.

(Photo: Stephan Görlich)

Animal shelters in Bavaria: It is difficult to find new owners for the goats because they are sick. In addition to 47 goats and sheep, there are 50 cats, 15 dogs, five pigs and 25 chickens at the sanctuary in Kirchasch.

The placement of the goats to new owners is difficult because they are sick. In addition to 47 goats and sheep, there are 50 cats, 15 dogs, five pigs and 25 chickens at the sanctuary in Kirchasch.

(Photo: Stephan Görlich)

According to Solveig Wanninger, there are “predominantly found animals” in the Erding animal shelter. There are also abandoned animals. In Freising too, more than 50 percent of animals are found, explains Joseph Popp. Some are found in gardens, others in yards, some have been hit. The animals are often in poor health and require medical treatment. The motives why animals are given away are also very different. Sometimes the necessary effort is underestimated, other owners don’t have the money or the landlord is against the new roommate. Kristina Berchtold explains that it’s nothing new for people to give up animals because they didn’t get enough information beforehand. But “the Corona has made it even worse”.

Therefore, interested parties who want to take on a protégé are carefully examined. “There are enough people who want animals,” says Popp, but not everyone is suitable for it. A free-roaming cat is not placed in the immediate vicinity of a federal highway, explains Solveig Wanninger. Another problem is that some animals were not brought up properly by their former owners and are therefore only found after a long stay in the animal shelter and even then are sometimes difficult to adopt. The latter applies to the majority of the animals at the sanctuary in Kirchasch. In 2021, a new home could only be found for 16 animals. For comparison: In the Freising animal shelter there are over 500 per year.

“Financially we are very worried”

In order to be able to accommodate the large number of animals, the Erdinger and Freisinger animal shelters are currently being expanded. In Erding, the men’s toilet was “converted into a found animal room”. A new rabbit hutch has also been completed. Four more dog kennels and runs as well as a new quarantine station are being built in Freising. Joseph Popp expects that this place could also be occupied after a month, but the club would need more money for additional capacities and that is where the main problem lies. “Financially, we’re really worried,” he says. On the one hand, she “caught the pandemic badly”: The costs had increased due to the tests and disinfectants required. At the same time, the possibility of raising donations through events such as Christmas markets has disappeared. On the other hand, the costs of the animal shelter went up. Wages are also adjusted – “every day someone has to be there,” explains Popp.

For these reasons, he expects 35 percent additional costs by the end of the year. In Kirchasch, too, one notices a decline in permanent donations and animal welfare association memberships. In Erding, there was no drop in donations due to the pandemic, but Solveig Wanninger believes that the consequences of the Ukraine war could change that in the future. Donations are the shelter’s main source of income. Joseph Popp is worried: “If I don’t get 140,000 euros in donations a year, I’ll have to close the animal shelter.”

Animal shelters in Bavaria: The new small animal cage is to be filled with wood chips. A monthly budget from the animal protection association was invested in the construction. "Now you have to save again," says Solveig Wanninger.

The new small animal cage is to be filled with wood chips. A monthly budget from the animal protection association was invested in the construction. “Now you have to save again,” says Solveig Wanninger.

(Photo: Stephan Görlich)

Animal shelters in Bavaria: A new quarantine station is to be built in Freising, in which animals with unclear vaccination status can also be housed. Pictured is a former quarantine station for cats.

A new quarantine station is to be built in Freising, in which animals with an unclear vaccination status can also be housed. Pictured is a former quarantine station for cats.

(Photo: Marco Einfeldt)

In addition to donations, animal shelters receive expense allowances from municipalities and cities in return for taking in and caring for found animals. The shelters have to negotiate the contracts themselves. The Erding facility receives 80 cents per inhabitant per year from the 24 municipalities and two towns in the district. According to Solveig Wanninger, however, more money would be needed to cover the costs. In Freising you also get 80 cents on average, even if the per capita amount is graded according to the size of the community. Due to rising operating costs, the shelter has already applied for new contracts for 2023.

The Munich Animal Welfare Association is happy to receive an additional 25,000 euros in funding from the city of Munich. However, the expense allowance does not include abandoned animals. A fee is charged for delivery and admission, but that doesn’t cover the costs, says Kristina Berchtold. However, an increase in levy fees could lead to a higher risk of animals being abandoned – an increase in agency fees to more being bought through untrustworthy channels.

In order to solve the financing problem, Joseph Popp calls for clear political responsibility. After all, animal shelters worked “in the public interest”. Kristina Berchtold agrees. In the case of donation animals, one does not know who to contact. She also wants more funding and government regulation. “That you have to provide proof for animals” and that you can’t just buy a dog is one of her ideas. Furthermore, compulsory neutering for cats outdoors could reduce the population. Wild cats are often in poor health. A registration requirement could also result in lost cats being found more frequently and more quickly.

“A dog is not mandatory for a family with children”

Solveig Wanninger also recommends that pet owners have their animals spayed and chipped. The chip must then be registered with a search platform such as “Tasso”. People should also be aware of the effort involved in keeping animals. Joseph Popp also emphasizes: “A dog is not mandatory for a family with children.”

The fact that people are surprised by the effort afterwards “happens less if you get advice from a reputable animal shelter,” says Berchtold. Aside from your own pet, you can help with donations of money, goods and food. You can also become a member of an animal protection association or help out on a voluntary basis. Solveig Wanninger advertises that people are also always being sought to pet cats. After all, cats not only need a place to sleep and food, but also a lot of affection.

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