EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

August 2, 2007

Animal overload: Nevins farm at maximum capacity

METHUEN | The cats are not actually crawling up the walls, but pretty soon they'll have nowhere else to go.

With 315 animals in house, the adoption center at Nevins Farm has hit its annual peak. And staff members there are hoping people will stop in and consider adding a new pet to their family.

"Chances are if you're looking for a cat, we'll have what you're looking for," said Jill O'Connell, project coordinator for the Broadway shelter, which is run by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

There are dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs too. There are so many animals that kittens are packed five to a cage at spots and dogs are being kept together | provided they get along. At one point last week, dogs were being kept in the center's offices.

"We're using the space we have," O'Connell said. "We never refuse an animal, so we just deal with what comes through our door."

What comes through the door in summer is a lot of cats.

"It's cat season," explained Stephen Zawistowski, an executive vice president at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which has no formal connection to the MSPCA.

"Cats tend to reproduce based on, essentially, the solar cycle," Zawistowski said. "The weather's good. They're more likely to survive. This is particularly true in the Northeast."

Summer also brings more people outside, where they come across stray animals and turn them over to shelters, Zawistowski said. And as more animals come in, adoptions are going down.

"People are busy, going on vacations and doing a variety of things," Zawistowski said. "It's a hard time of year for us, but it's not out of control."

In fact, Zawistowski suggests that people do adopt new pets during the summer. Dogs have more time to play outside. Cats can become accustomed to life in a new house. Children are home on summer vacation.

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