5 year-old Sonja is one of the dogs currently available to adopt at Oakland Animal Services. Credit: Oakland Animal Services

Oakland Animal Services is aiming to find homes for 50 big dogs who are staying in its open-admission shelter by Monday, Jan. 16. From this Thursday to Monday, OAS will make the adoption process easier by extending its hours, waiving adoption fees, and making volunteers available for matchmaking. 

Open-admission shelters take animals regardless of health, age, breed, or behavior, which can lead to overcrowding. Oakland Animal Services takes in about eight dogs per day, and has 73 kennels for big dogs. According to OAS Director Ann Dunn, the shelter would ideally hold no more than 65 dogs at a time. As of Monday, there were about 112 dogs.

Oakland was fortunate to avoid a crisis of abandoned pandemic pets in 2020 and 2021, but the situation has now changed.

“I started as director in early 2020 and since that point we have not euthanized for space. This is the first time we’re looking at that possibility because there are just so many dogs, which is why we’re putting up the call to the community because we absolutely don’t want to do that,” Ann Dunn, director of Oakland Animal Services, told The Oaklandside. 

No dogs will be euthanized due to crowding if the shelter’s goal of 50 adoptions by January 16 isn’t reached, but Dunn said it’s imperative they get dogs adopted so they can better accommodate them. “What we’re doing is splitting kennels in half. A single kennel for a dog is not a great situation for a dog, so half of a kennel with a stressed dog on the other side is far from ideal.”

Chanel Rose, who is currently 2 going on 3 years old, is one of the dogs available for adoption at Oakland Animal Services. Credit: Oakland Animal Services

Dog intake initially decreased from 2,808 overall dogs in 2019 to 1,870 in 2020, according to data provided by Oakland Animal Services. The city-run shelter has also not had to euthanize dogs due to space because of increased efforts to get lost dogs returned to their owners, promotion of their foster program, and increased adoptions. Oakland Animal Services does euthanize animals due to old age or sickness, though that rate has slowly declined since 2019. 

However, the shelter has experienced a surge in dog intake over the past year; Oakland Animal Services took in 2,852 dogs throughout 2022. 

“The biggest driver is the economy. It’s heartbreaking because a lot of people are losing their housing“, Dunn said. “I think the real crisis is not enough affordable housing that allows pets, especially big dogs.” 

Oakland Animal Services is located at 1101 29th Ave. The shelter is holding extended adoption hours on Thursday, Jan. 12, from 12 p.m to 7 p.m, and Friday, January 13 to Monday, January 16, from 12 p.m to 5 p.m. A list of available dogs can be found here.

Ricky Rodas is a member of the 2020 graduating class of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Before joining The Oaklandside, he spent two years reporting on immigrant communities in the Bay Area as a reporter for the local news sites Oakland North, Mission Local, and Richmond Confidential. Rodas, who is Salvadoran American and bilingual, is on The Oaklandside team through a partnership with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.