DALLAS — Nestled away on Lockville Road, Blue Chip Farms Animal Refuge is home to all sorts of animals.
A non-profit, no-kill shelter, it has a mission to provide a sanctuary where older, stray, abandoned, sick or abused animals can wait to be adopted or simply live out their lives in safety and peace.
Despite the serene and quiet scene, Blue Chip Farms is teeming with life. The shelter is filled with cats and dogs, and owner Marge Bart, 59, hopes to get some of them into good homes.
“Right now, we have approximately 200 cats here,” Bart said. Another 30 kittens are in foster homes, and Bart said the shelter gets calls every day from people wanting to drop off dogs. “We are at maxed capacity right now,” she said.
Some of the shelter’s dogs have lived there for several years. Bart said some dogs have special needs that only special homes can accommodate.
One example she gave was a dog that lived with an elderly woman and eventually became over-protective. As a result, the canine would probably fit well with a single owner or a household without many visitors.
Bart also said the shelter takes in dogs with bite histories, but staff members work with dogs to resolve those issues. Trainers are also provided at no charge for those looking to a adopt a dog with a bite history.
Bart said the shelter’s overpopulation has been an ongoing situation. With the unstable economy, she has seen more people move out of houses and into apartments or with family members. As a result, they have to give up their pets.
Bart said the overpopulation is caused by pet owners who “don’t do their homework” before bringing a pet into their lives. That includes people not getting their pets spayed or neutered, getting a pet they’re allergic to or not taking full responsibility.
So how has the shelter responded?
“We have adapted to it by saying ‘no’, unfortunately,” Bart said. She added that a lot of people tend to take in pets, but not realize that they need constant care and attention. “If you’re going to get a pet, it’s a pet for life.”
The crowd of cats and dogs has proved to be a financial burden for the shelter. Bart said it spent about $150,000 last year on veterinary bills alone; this year, she expects to exceed that by at least 25 percent.
Volunteer Jennifer Robinson, 36, of Shavertown, said animals at the shelter get “the works” in terms of medical care — shots, spaying or neutering and implanted microchips.
“We lose money on every adoption, basically, because we can’t ask for all that vet work to be covered,” she said. “We just want (the pets) to have good homes.”
The expenses don’t stop there. Bart said the shelter spends about $400 a week on cat litter. Robinson said another $500 a month is used for a laundry service for pet bedding.
The need for donations, as well as willing hands to help keep up with the shelter’s furry inhabitants, has also increased. Bart said the shelter typically has 10 full-time volunteers, and another 20 that come and go.
“We need more volunteers every day,” Bart said.
Bart encouraged people to adopt pets not only from Blue Ridge, but from anywhere. Doing so, she said, would help to bring the pet population under control.
“Our big belief is to adopt, not shop, for your pet and to make sure you spay and neuter to help control the population,” she said.