Harrison County

Coast animal shelters ask for volunteers. ‘We do not see any relief until the cooler weather hits.’

As high school and college students return to school, animal shelters on the Coast are looking for volunteers to help fill any gaps left behind.

For the Humane Society of South Mississippi in Gulfport, the official shelter capacity is 289 animals. But, “on any given day in the summer we have 350-400 pets in-house,” said Development Director Katie King.

Kittens are usually the reason for those high numbers each summer, she said.

“That’s when we see hundreds of kittens come into the shelter, and we do not see any relief until the cooler weather hits, which is normally not until November here in South Mississippi,” King said.

At HSSM, volunteers are responsible for dog walking, grooming, interacting with the animals and preparing treats.

“We rely heavily on volunteers who can come step in and substitute for some staff the staff, because we can’t just hire additional staff for certain months of the year,” said Adoption Manager Bianca Janik.

The Hancock County Animal Shelter is also looking for volunteers.

Volunteer duties in Hancock County are similar to those at HSSM, with the addition of laundry. The shelter accepts volunteers as young as 13, as long as they’re accompanied by a parent, according to the shelter.

Things are a little different on the other end of the Coast. The Jackson County Animal Shelter is managing their numbers well thanks to an influx of volunteers, a staff member told the Sun Herald.

They currently have a waiting list for volunteers, but they’re always looking to add to it. The shelter also welcomes students who need community service hours for school.

Here’s where to go to learn more about volunteering at Coast shelters:

Britneé Davis is McClatchy’s South Region Digital Producer. The south region includes the Sun Herald, the Telegraph, and the Ledger-Enquirer.