Due to a recent upsurge in orphaned animals, the Erath County Humane Society is asking for help.

Director Judy Hallmark attributes the high number of canines and felines delivered to the shelter to the economy, which has forced a number of animal lovers to put their four-legged friends up for adoption. She also said animals being "dumped" on unsuspecting property owners "out in the county," is also to blame for the recent increase in population at the facility, located at 891 East Road in Stephenville.

"There are so many animals coming in," Hallmark said, adding that those who awake to find an abandoned animal on their property typically don't want to take on the added expense.

In regards to the animals whose human companions have been forced to give them up, Hallmark said for most, it is a heart-wrenching decision. While many would like to make a monetary donation to support the shelter, they simply can't afford to lend a helping hand.

"So many want to donate, but just can't do it," Hallmark said.

One woman told Hallmark that although she would like to make a donation, it was all she could do to feed her family.

Hallmark said one person recently brought in more than 25 cats that had "nowhere to go."

The problem for the shelter is the fact that the upsurge in population adds up to an increase in operating costs and the need for more supplies.

"A lot of people believe the Humane Society gets a lot of funding, but we get very little," Hallmark said.

So how can you help? Believe it or not, a little bit goes a long way.

"Even $5 goes a long way," Hallmark said, adding that cleaning and pet care supplies, especially bleach and kitty litter are always needed and monetary donations are greatly appreciated.

The upsurge is a two-fold problem. With even the most loving pet owners faced with a tough decision, Hallmark said adoptions are also suffering as fewer area residents are able to consider bringing another mouth to feed into their homes.

Still, Hallmark is encouraging those searching for a new pet to stop by the shelter to adopt one. If you are searching for a dog or cat to call your own, see the Pets of the Week, which runs weekly, inside today's Empire-Tribune.

For more information on the Erath County Humane Society, call the shelter at 254-965-3247.