MADISONVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Colder temperatures are moving into East Tennessee and some forecasts suggest several below-freezing nights and days.

This is bad news for the Monroe County Animal Shelter. It’s a work in progress but the plan is to start building a new animal shelter in the county. The current shelter has been over capacity for more than a month and the majority of the dogs there have to be kept outside.

“Wish we could do more. Always wish we could do more,” Monroe County Animal Shelter volunteer Merilu O’Dell said.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) reports 25 pets have died so far this year in the US due to cold weather. Those at the animal shelter in Monroe County are working hard to make sure no tragedy happens under their watch. 

“We do what we can,” O’Dell said. “Every animal has heat lamps. We have blankets on them. We tried to cover the sides so of the kennels so that there’s not a lot of wind chill.”

Originally, the building where the shelter is was supposed to be temporary. However, after about 17 years, the shelter has outgrown its space. 

Monroe County Friends of Animals Executive Director Teresa Underwood said, “In order to house dogs, we had to expand kennels outside so that’s why they’re outside. There isn’t enough room in this building to house them indoors.”

“We’re very, very full and strays are coming in every day,” O’Dell said. “We’ve had at least five come in today and we have no space for them. Some of them are in crates right now.” 

The shelter is still about $900,000 short of its $4.3-million goal to complete the new build. However, shelter workers said what would really help these dogs is a loving home. 

“Come out and adopt animals or offer to foster so that they can be in your warm, cozy home even if it’s like really super cold nights and you just foster them for a few days so they’re not here. Especially the smaller animals,” Underwood said.

O’Dell added, “An animal is a live being and they feel just like you do.”

To learn more about fostering or adopting an animal at the Monroe County Animal Shelter, click here.

For those who have pets of their own, it is highly encouraged to bring your pet inside while the cold temperatures loom. If you can’t, try to create a warm place for them to sleep. It also wouldn’t hurt to check your car before cranking up the engine. An animal may be sleeping under your hood or car to get away from the cold.