Stray animals on the rise in Hannibal

We hear everyday about pets being shot or abused, but isn't being abandoned in the streets just as awful an offense?

The Hannibal Police Department has seen an increase in stray animals running the streets, most of them abandoned or set loose by their owners.

A program was started with the Northeast Missouri Humane Shelter in which pet owners can surrender house pets to the police department at no charge.

"If somebody has no other option, they can't afford to take care of it, obviously they couldn't afford to pay the fee to surrender it. So, turning them into us at no charge helps to give them another option instead of setting them free to run the streets or abandon them to starve to death," said Zerbonia.

From October 2010 to March 8th of this year, 64 dogs, 34 cats, and two rabbits were surrendered to the Hannibal Police Department. A majority of the animals were surrendered due to financial reasons. But the increase in animals has put a strain on Animal Control. That's because more animals mean more work.

"It's worth it because it helps keep them off the streets, reduces the number of dogs running, dogs and cats running around, reduces trash being torn up, reduces disease," said Zerbonia.

Lt. John Zerbonia says there are other benefits to the program -- benefits to the Humane Society and to the animal's future owners.

"We know where they came from, we know what kind of environment they've been in and basically we get to know about the animal other than being picked up off the street where we know absolutely nothing about it," said Kurt Groenda

"What we would like people to do is find a home for the pets if they can and take care of them through friends or family so they can be adopted and cared for," said Lt. John Zerbonia.

Northeast Missouri Humane Society Administrator Kurt Groenda also says about 90-95% of dogs and cats come from the city of Hannibal.

There's no shame in adopting a pet and discovering that they are just not a good fit for you and your family, just make sure you fix the situation in a responsible manner. Remember that one option is to contact the Hannibal Police Department at 573-221-0987.

If you are looking to adopt a pet, here are some resources for you:

Missouri Viewing Area: NEMO Humane Society Adopt a Animal

Illinois Viewing Area: Quincy Humane Society Adopt a Quincy Animal Shelter

Iowa Viewing Area: Keokuk Humane Society Animal Friends of Keokuk Animal Services (FOKAS) has teamed up with Ogo TMs Restaurant. Click here for info on FOKAS adoptable pets.

If you know of any other resources for those looking to adopt a pet, please leave it in the comments thread below or join the conversation on our Facebook page here .