Ordinary people tackling the extraordinary problem of pet overpopulation

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by Brad Woodard / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on August 1, 2013 at 1:15 PM

HOUSTON -- Some things you expect to find in a hardware store, but you do not expect to find dogs up for adoption.

Store owner Nahid Haize is a woman on a mission. She’s also a woman of compassion.

“Some dogs get adopted in days,” Haize said. “Others stay here for months.”

On any given day, you'll find Nahid and her daughter Lauren scouring Houston's streets for homeless dogs.

“It saddens me for the entire day, because I come across so many loose dogs,” Haize said.

She's lost count of how many she's saved over the years, or how much of her own money she's spent but estimates she found homes for as many as 60 last year -- using her hardware store as an adoption center.

“The problem is there are a lot of good people who would stop and get dogs,” Haize said. “After they get them they don't know what to do with them because the shelters are so full and won’t take them.”

It's estimated there are between 800,000 and 1.2 million homeless animals roaming the streets of Houston, one of the highest rates in the nation.

During the summer, it's not unusual for the city shelter, BARC, to take in more than 150 a day. Unlike other shelters in Houston, BARC is the only shelter that can't turn animals away because of its mandate. While adoptions are up, it's increasingly clear we can't adopt ourselves out of this problem.

“We've got to come up with new fresh ideas,” said city spokesperson Chris Newport, “something we’ve never tried before.”

The city is partnering with the non-profit Spay Neuter Assistance Program, which performs 5,500 surgeries a year in its mobile clinic.

“We look at the zip codes where there the most strays, the most turn ins at BARC, and that's where we take our mobile clinic, and we're running five days a week in those areas, and it's all free,” said Laura Welch of BARC.

It’s not only free. It’s a much kinder alternative for man's best friend abandoned.

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