Thunder, a six-year-old tan Weimaraner and pointer mix, is currently being fostered. Many other dogs at Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center in Derwood are need of fosters and adopters as shelter reached critical population. Credit: Provided by Jimmy Dong

As the Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center in Derwood reached a critical population of large dogs six months ago, they pleaded with the community to help.

Fosters and adopters answered the call, but a spokesperson for the center says it’s just a temporary fix.

“I feel like this call to help really did put things together, but just because now we’re OK doesn’t mean it’s gonna stay that way,” Maria Anselmo, MCASAC community relations manager said. “This is a band aid that was put on. It’s not a solution.”

Despite foster and adoption efforts from the community, the population remains at a critical level for all types of animals as of Tuesday, leading the shelter to offer waived adoption fees for the next 100 pets adopted through Aug. 24. The shelter needs fosters for large dogs, underage kittens, and nursing cats with kittens, according to a news release from MCASAC.

Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, rats, mice, turtles, and birds are all available for adoption.

Jimmy Dong, 20, was one of the fosters who answered the call.


“I was very concerned, and I even told my parents about it, and we were actually thinking of taking some more dogs, either maybe three or two,” Dong said.

Dong is a junior at the University of Maryland, College Park, with aspirations of becoming a veterinarian. He’s been fostering pets for the past year at his parents’ home in Olney.

After hearing about the overpopulation of dogs in the shelter, Dong said he was shocked and wanted to help.


Dong is currently fostering a six-year-old tan Weimaraner and pointer mix named Thunder, who he said likes to play but primarily likes to sleep a lot. Thunder is the seventh animal Dong has fostered.

Anselmo said late July was the first time in six months that the large dog capacity at the facility fell below 90. The decrease was primarily due to community members stepping in to foster some of the large dogs, she said.

Prior to the temporary relief to the large dog population overflow, Anselmo said they had grown used to it.


“For us, 90 used to be what we considered a panicky amount of dogs, and now we’ve sort of grown accustomed to like 100 is uncomfortable, 110 is we’re seriously in trouble, and then here or there it’s like somehow we’ve managed to cram 120 dogs in here, that doesn’t really work,” Anselmo said.

A significant contribution to the temporary relief is attributed to local fosters such as Dong.

“Dogs that I’ve fostered so far, they’ve always struggled being in the shelter…so by taking them out of that, it really helps,” he said. “I feel like just taking them out of that shelter environment can help them. You even get to see them change and slowly get more comfortable, which is really nice.”


Despite what some might think, people who give up their dogs aren’t always heartless people, Anselmo said. There are multiple causes for the increase of large dogs in the shelter but primarily, she said it was related to homes and apartments not allowing large dogs.

“We run into a lot of people who have to surrender their pets because of moving and they’re sort of forced to move to a place that is not pet friendly and they don’t have options to choose ‘do I keep my dog, or do I keep a roof over my family’s head?’’’ she said.

In addition to housing pet policies, owners have also had to surrender their dogs due to financial issues, Anselmo said.


“People are just unable to continue caring for pets,” she said. “Prices have gone up for everything, we’ve definitely seen it before like pet food, veterinary care expenses, especially with such a shortage of veterinarians around the country. It does cost more, in some cases, to get pets to a veterinarian because of all their costs for treating pets has gone up, the costs of prescriptions and medicine.”

The shelter offers resources to owners who might have fallen on challenging times and still want to keep their pets including a behavior helpline and a pet food pantry.

Full capacity means the shelter will only be accepting animals that need immediate help. This policy is to help prevent euthanasia. Owners who must rehome a pet are encouraged to use rehoming websites. The shelter can list pets on the website for owners trying to rehome, according to the release.


Financial concerns are another reason that Dong said he decided to foster over adopt.

“The shelter provides all the food, all the medical care, so we don’t really have to use our own money a lot,” he said. “We just buy toys most of the time.”

Dong said he intends on fostering up until he graduates from UMD and leaves for veterinarian school.


For those interested in fostering, Dong said the reward comes from seeing them happy and growing but there is one bittersweet aspect–adoption.

“It’s very sad but updates definitely helped and like seeing how they are,” he said. “I do frequently sometimes contact potential adopters just to check in on how they are and sometimes they even out of the blue and then it’s like ‘oh, a nice surprise.’ But that’s definitely the hardest part of fostering, in my opinion, just seeing them go.”