TERRELL (CBS 11 NEWS) – An overcrowded North Texas animal shelter is going to great lengths to keep from euthanizing animals. The measures are working, but only for now.

Cilla Wichmann took over the Terrell Animal Shelter this past January. A dog trainer by nature, she moved to Texas from Sweden and brought her animal-loving skills with her.

“These eight months have been fantastic, to come along and do this,” said Wichmann.

The Terrell Animal Shelter is a very small facility that routinely euthanized animals because of overcrowding.

“If we have big dogs, we can’t squeeze more than 2 dogs in each kennel.”

The shelter only has eight large spaces for bigger animals.

“That’s all the space we have”

The shelter had been a kill-facility for more than 20 years until it made a simple decision that has yielded incredible results. For the first time ever, the shelter has created an adoption and volunteer program that is working to get the word out.

“We started a Facebook page, we started a Twitter page- we went viral for the people,” explained Wichmann.

Deborah Hopson learned of the shelter’s new initiative and jumped at the chance to volunteer.

“When I came out here and saw the animals, I couldn’t help but try and help them to have a better life,” said an emotional Hopson.

The increased awareness has made the shelter more visible.  In the short time CBS 11 cameras were there, two families came by looking to adopt and one dog even found a new a home.

shelter dog Animal Shelters Volunteers, Social Media Help Find New Homes

A dog waiting for adoption at the Terrell Animal Shelter (CBS 11 News)

“You celebrate every single dog that walks out the door- you celebrate it as if it’s your birthday,” said Wichmann.

“We have not euthanized any animals for space. We’re really proud of that because a lot people said you can’t do that.”

And although the adoption programs are working, the issue of overcrowding never goes away, which means the threat of having to euthanize an animal is real.

Wichmann hopes the community will see the problem and respond with compassion.

“We have to fight a lot harder than a big shelter, but it’s worth fighting for.”

Click here to learn more about the animals up for adoption.

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