As college students leave the Palouse each spring, the local animal shelters are flooded with inquiries from pet owners who can no longer care for their dog or cat.
"We usually get quite a lot of calls about dogs, specifically," said Whitman County Humane Society Director of Shelter Operations Brittany Bryant. "We put them on our waiting list, but they don't give us a lot of time to make room for a new one."
The Whitman County Humane Society has room for, at most, twelve dogs and about twice as many cats. So they're forced to turn away many unwanted pets.
"Unfortunately, we always at some point have to because then it becomes inhumane to have an overflow of animals," said Bryant.
At that point, some of the animals are left to fend for themselves. Especially cats.
"A lot of the cats, they're indoor cats," said Bryant. "If you just throw them outside, they're not going to be prepared to deal with that and they can get hit by cars, that happens quite a lot."
"If you talk to property management people, you'll find that a lot of cats that are left in the apartments, and some of them are left in there for two weeks and they live on the toilet water.," said Spay Neuter Clinic Executive Director Dr. Tammy Faulkner.
Faulkner said she gets a lot of calls this time of year from pet owners in a bind.
"They say, 'I have no other option,'" said Faulkner. "What's the only thing that I can do? I can either put it to sleep, or take it in myself. There isn't any other options."
She says that it's an upsetting trend, but when all the local shelters are no-kill, there's usually no room for new animals.
"We want to blame it on the students, but at least they try," said Faulkner. "They tried to find a home, and they tried to bring them into the shelter, but the shelters are full. When you have no-kill shelters, that's the reality."
On a lighter note, adoption rates are higher during the summer, so the pets in shelters have a better chance of finding a home.