ASHTABULA, Ohio - It looks like a pit bull was digging for an escape route from an outdoor cage at the Ashtabula County APL shelter. He's one of 60 dogs who will be put to sleep if not adopted soon because the shelter is overpopulated.
"Yeah, we can't talk about it because I can't ..." Those where Tammy Dondorfer's last words before she broke down into tears. Dondorfer is the shelter's animal welfare director and the person responsible for putting down the animals.
Her tears showed how difficult even talking about the responsibility is. You could clearly see how attached she is to the animals.
"It's like they're our own. And if something happens or somebody finds them, we want to make sure that our animals are taken care of," Dondorfer explained.
The love they have for the animals is the reason why she and her staff are pushing to get 60 dogs adopted by the end of this week. The shelter is operating at maximum capacity.
"In a matter of about five days,we received 31 dogs in from our animal control officer and, unfortunately, the amount of adoptions is not going as fast as the amount going in."
If the dogs don't get adopted, they'll be put down. The answer for the shelter's staff: Find 60 new homes so that no dog will have to be killed.
Dondorfer told NewsChannel5 they chose the number 60 because, "Our time is running out for the animals and we're setting our clocks back so for every minute of the hour, that's 60 minutes, so we thought we'd help 60 animals find homes."
The staff has taken their fight to Facebook, where they posted pictures of the animals that need homes quickly. And as soon as they did, one family drove in from Erie to to adopt Watson, a one-year-old pup who was on the list to be euthanized.
"He's just going to become a great part of our family," said the new owners.
Another couple took home a cat that had been at the shelter for 12 months.
"That's what got me," said another new owner, "I can't imagine being in a cage for a year."
Every adoption helps, but the ones that must find homes quickly are the dogs.
The Ashtabula County APL shelter is setting up an adoption event at Mentor Pet's Mart to help encourage more adoptions. They're also continuing with Facebook posts and Twitter to attract new families.
Anyone interested in adopting immediately can contact the shelter on their website: www.ACAPL.org.