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Katy Pet Abandonment Increases as Shelters Remain Full


September 8, 2022

By Natalie Cook Clark

Katy pets continue to be impacted by economic strains. Harris County reports a rise in local pet abandonment while shelters and organizations remain full.

Amp is looking for a family at Katy's Special Pals. He is 10 months old, and he's a super smart pup who loves walks. Amp has been waiting for a family since February 2022. Photo credit for all pictures: Aspen and Willow Photography.

Harris County Animal Cruelty Taskforce answers the call when a Katy pet is in need. Anyone can reach out online or call to report concerns. Corporal Fesperman, with the unit says that while they have seen less animal cruelty cases this year, they have seen an increase in pet abandonment. It is illegal to abandon a pet in the state of Texas.

Around 20 Cases a Week of Pet Abandonment

“We have seen an increase in pet abandonment and believe it has something to do with people leaving animals that they got during COVID,” says Corporal Fesperman, who reports there being around 20 cases a week of pet abandonment.

Corporal Fesperman says that pet abonnement is frequently connect with evictions. They have found pets left in cases or tied to a fence.

All 5 of Oprah's kittens have found homes and now it's her turn!

“With evictions back to being enforced, people are leaving their pets behind,” says Corporal Fesperman. “Fortunately, in most cases a neighbor or someone will notice and then we are notified before the situation becomes really worse.”

The unit has found pets other than dogs and cats left behind.

“We’ve also had abandoned reptiles like geckos and snakes,” says Corporal Fesperman. “We’ve had sugar gliders and chinchillas.”

While lately Harris County Animal Cruelty Taskforce has found abandoned pets at what they call “safe haven” locations like vet offices, Corporal Fesperman stresses that there is a safe way to surrender you pet if you have no other option.

“Start small, talk to friends and family to see if people can help you out,” says Corporal Fesperman. “If you need food, there are drives.”

Corporal Fesperman explains that there is a specific process they follow when they get a call on suspected pet abandonment. They investigate the situation and reach out to ensure there aren't family members or anyone that can take care of the pet.

“Yes, many shelters are at capacity but do reach out to county and city shelters and breed organizations if you have a pure bred,” says Corporal Fesperman.

Special Pals Helps Katy Pets

Special Pals is one of many Katy organizations that are overcapacity but still working to help local animals. Special Pets was founded in 1979 and has been located on Greenhouse Road in Katy since the 1990s. They are a limited intake no kill shelter, meaning that they never euthanize for space. They offer dog and cat adoptions and are also a low-cost pet vaccination clinic.

“We know it's a hard decision for people and we do the best we can to help as many animals as we can,” says Katy Heerssen, Director of Development and Marketing at Special Pals. “We receive hundreds of requests to turn in a pet every week.”

Special Pals also helps local shelters by accepting animals at risk of euthanasia into their program, when they can support them. They also help foster-based organizations by providing temporary boarding space for animals that are transitioning to safety.

Spot is looking for a family. He is 1-years-old, and he loves baths and playing in the water.

Animal shelters and organizations across the area are all at capacity and it many cases, way over.

“We think it's a combination of people's priorities shifting and people's lifestyles changing, all stemming from economic uncertainty,” says Heerssen.

River is a 1-year-old who is a fun-loving friend that loves walking on a leash.

The three top reasons people have given Special Pals this year for intake requests are: ‘I work too much,’ ‘I need to move,’ ‘I can't afford it anymore.’ Heerssen points out that housing is a big issue as pet-friendly housing remains at a premium. Rising costs of pet food that are affecting so many shelters are also affecting people at home.

How Can You Help?

Fostering is easy. With Special Pals, like so many organizations, foster families are supplied with daily supplies and food. Any medical care is fully covered by Special Pals.

Special Pals provides training and support for anyone who wishes to foster.

“If fosters provide their home and a little TLC, we'll take care of everything else,” says Heerssen.

There is a brief application online at to help them match make the best foster matches.

Same Day Adoptions

All adoptions can happen the same day and an easy application. All adoptables are ready to go home right away and have already been spayed/neutered, up to date on vaccinations, microchipped, and come with one-month of flea and heartworm prevention.

“Our crew helps match them with a dog or cat that will best fit their lifestyle and personality,” says Heerssen.


“As a private, nonprofit organization, we are completely supported by the kindness of animal-lovers in our community, and they are who have kept our doors open for 43 years,” says Heerssen.

Special Pals relies on community donations. To help, visit them online for an updated list of requested items.

Volunteers are also needed. “More dogs means more cleaning, and more volunteer hands and staff to help get that done every day so that there's adequate time for enrichment activities like dog walks, baths, and play time,” says Heerssen.

Capacity is a problem in the Katy area, but these shelters and organizations are here to help families. From being a safe place to surrender your pet or the place to find your next best friend, Katy organizations like Special Pals are here to help.

Always be on the look out for special events like the Best Friends Adoption Event coming up September 16-18, 2022 at Special Pals (3830 Greenhouse road) 12:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. At the event, Special Pals is waiving the adoption fee for large dogs. Large dogs are typically the dogs that stay in the shelters the longest.

“Take responsibility for your dog and do the best you can,” says Corporal Fesperman.

Report suspected animal cruelty or abandonment to Harris County Animal Cruelty Taskforce online or call 832-927-PAWS.


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