ANDERSON, S.C. (WSPA) – South Carolina animal shelters have declared a state of emergency. They said shelters are at critical capacity and they need the community to step in.

“This year has been the first time in the history of animal shelters that I can remember there ever being a state of emergency declared,” said Anderson County PAWS Director Dr. Kim Sanders.

Nearly every shelter in South Carolina is at their breaking point.

“It’s just that everyone is at capacity, so we’re not able to take in more animals,” Dr. Sanders said.

Sanders said part of the problem is that there have been so many animals brought to shelters from illegal puppy mills.

She said when shelters are so full like this, both the animals and workers are impacted.

“It’s too many animals to be handling on a daily basis and the staff is just stressed. The animals have become very stressed as well and so we start to see dogs declining with different mental problems that they start showing,” Sanders said.

Sanders said there’s no sign of this issue letting up, unless community members take action.

“We are desperate for the community’s help right now to step up, to be responsible, to help find those lost animals their homes. If they can’t find them their own owner, to help place them other ways as well,” Sanders said.

If you’re interested in adopting a pet from Anderson County PAWS click here to look at adoptable dogs and cats on their website.

Another Upstate shelter, Greenville Animal Care, which is one of the largest shelters in the state, is also asking for help. Click here for their adoption info.