MADISONVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The staff at the Monroe County Animal Shelter is very busy. Like hundreds of shelters across the country, Monroe County’s is over capacity and currently, more than 200 animals are on the intake waitlist.

But hope is high a new animal shelter in Monroe County could help resolve a number of issues. The plan is to build it just a few 1,000 feet away from the current shelter however more funding is needed to make the dream a reality.

“We’ve got animals stored everywhere,” Monroe County Friends of Animals Executive Director Teresa Underwood said. “Any medical care that we do is done in this tiny little room here.”

It’s tight quarters at the shelter along Kefauver Lane and Underwood as well as her animal-loving team are trying to meet needs with what they have. 

“It’s pretty stressful because we have to figure out where we can put these animals. We have some in the kitchen. We have moms with puppies out in the puppy room,” she said.

The shelter is way over its capacity limit. Typically it’s supposed to house 80 to 90 animals but right now more than 120 are living there.

“When we can double up, we do and that’s the only way we can hold these animals,” Underwood said. “We have cut down our capacity of intake. Used to be around 6,000 a year and now we’re down to less than 2,000 a year but I fear that’s going to be growing here in recent months.”

Underwood speculates the current state of the national economy is taking a toll on Monroe County pet owners which is fueling the surge in surrendered animals.

“The cost of living is going up. Grocery stores, buying your groceries and then buying for animals to feed them, that’s expensive. Traveling, taking them to the vet. There’s a shortage of veterinarians right now. So if you can’t take your animal to the veterinarian, then you can’t get them spayed or neutered, therefore you can’t stop animals from being produced,” said Underwood.

Some of the dogs at the shelter live outside. The good news is that 75% of the funding for a new, bigger shelter is secure. 

“At the new shelter these animals, especially the dogs, can come and go inside and outside with inside, outside kennels,” Underwood said. “There will be less spread of disease because we can control the airflow in the new shelter. And it’ll have a bigger lobby so the community will have more space when they walk in the door to adopt or turn in their animals.”

Underwood added she and her team don’t want to be put into the situation of euthanizing adoptable animals to make space at the current shelter. About $1.3 million is still needed to build the new one.

While Underwood says a new shelter doesn’t guarantee a solution to the overcapacity problems, the best thing to do is be prepared.

Click here to learn more about pet adoption and fostering at the Monroe County Animal Shelter.