PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Due to overcrowding in animal shelters, Multnomah County Animal Services has announced that they will temporarily stop the intake of pets.

Starting Wednesday and going until Jan. 11, Animal Services will no longer be taking in pets to prevent volunteers and staff from being overburdened and to help them prepare for the move back to in-person adoptions which have been closed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In December, Animal Services said the number of animals in shelters increased because of animals fleeing due to New Year’s fireworks celebrations and the high number of people traveling.

“Our goal is always to safely and effectively shelter and care for animals until we can find or return them to their homes,” said Animal Services Director Erin Grahek. “But right now, at this moment, we need the community’s help so we can continue that work — without backtracking on our commitment to resume in-person adoptions and improve overall services.”

Animal Services is asking anyone who currently volunteers at an animal welfare organization to help out by volunteering at a shelter to help the pets that are already there.

Anyone who finds a stray pet during the week that intake is closed is asked first to take steps to find the pet’s owner, which includes using tags, if they have them, and searching for lost pet reports online.