Stray dog problem persists in Yakima

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Walk around Yakima and chances are you'll see a stray: a dog without a home, left to fend for itself. It's a persistent problem in Yakima. KIMA learned how Yakima and the Humane Society are trying to solve it.

Row upon row. Face after face. Stray dogs behind cage doors at the Yakima Humane Society.

Yakima's problem with strays is a stubborn one.

Last year, the Humane Society took in almost 4,000 dogs - slightly more than it did the year before.

But the problem persists. Just this week...

"Two different people brought in two litters of puppies, ten each, that they just found," said the Yakima Humane Society's Outreach and Education Manager, Nicole Papageorgiou. "One had been thrown, and another was found under a bush."

The Humane Society tries to combat the problem. Holding mega adoption events and participating in adoption fairs in Western Washington. Using social media to get the word out about its dogs. Educating owners about responsible pet ownership. And, expanding its network of foster families.

The organization also transfers dogs to other organizations, so they aren't put down.

Adoptions are steady. But, more dogs are being reunited with owners or transferred elsewhere.

Rosalinda Cano recently adopted a husky from the Humane Society.

"She's a part of our family. She's beautiful. She's wonderful."

But, not all dogs are so lucky. Yakima contracted with the Humane Society to hire two more animal control officers. They catch about four strays every day of the week.

Ben Zigan told KIMA his job is depressing. It's a grind to keep finding animals in terrible condition.

"These dogs weren't, you know, most likely born on the street. They belonged to somebody at some point that didn't take care of them."

Animal Control found one little guy running loose on North 4th Street. The next stop for him, the Humane Society.

The dogs they find account for roughly two-thirds of the dogs that end up at the shelter, solving the problem of strays that continue to run on the streets.

The Yakima Humane Society encourages owners to spay and neuter their dogs to cut down on the stray population.