Martha LaVere Washington

Martha LaVere Washington, adoption specialist for the Leflore County Humane Society, takes care of 4-week-old terrier-shepherd mix puppies. The shelter is currently at capacity with about 130 cats and dogs at the facility.

The Leflore County Humane Society’s shelter is up to its paws with animals, and it needs more volunteers and supplies.

Signs outside announce that the shelter is at “max capacity and not accepting any animals.”

The facility normally has around 75 to 80 cats and dogs, said Martha LaVere Washington, adoption specialist. Right now, it has about 130, and some of the dogs are expecting puppies.

“We are working hard with our rescue partners, online and local adopters, to place our fur babies as quickly as possible,” the shelter said in a Facebook post.

“We need volunteers. That’s the main thing,” Washington said. “Mainly to socialize, to walk dogs because sometimes we don’t have enough time to walk every dog or play with every puppy, and they just need socialization right now.”

For those who cannot volunteer but still want to assist, Washington said dropping off supplies such as old blankets and towels, large trash bags, dish soap, laundry detergent, paper towels and, of course, pet food is also greatly appreciated.

Washington said she fears the COVID-19 pandemic has played a part in overcrowding the shelter.

She said she has heard some pet owners have had to give up their animals because they have had to downsize their homes or change apartments, they lost their jobs or they have suffered other financial hardships.

“A lot of people can’t take care of their animals, can’t keep their animals,” she said. “We have helped with food if for some reason they can’t afford it.”

Brenda Jackson, who is in charge of operations at the shelter, said the workload has been heavy and they are thankful for the volunteers they have as well as the board members — Betty Grantham, Janice McCurdy and Aubrey Whittington — who come in regularly.

She said that a general lack of animal care could be a reason for the abundance of animals.

“People don’t get their dogs and cats spayed and neutered like they are supposed to, and they let them run around and get pregnant,” Jackson said. “They just don’t do good vetting for them.”

During the earlier stages of the pandemic, the shelter was closed, and people were staying home, she said. However, now that people are out more, she said it seems that “things are picking up” in terms of adoption.

Still, as the shelter still has  an abundance of cats and dogs, she said she welcomes any volunteers who can help.

“If you love animals, it’s the place for you to be,” Jackson said.

For more information on the shelter and ways to help, check

Contact Adam Bakst at 581-7233 or Twitter: @AdamBakst_GWCW

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