When San Francisco's Animal Care & Control put out the word last month that it needed more newspapers to line the cages for dogs that have to take care of business, the city's library system stepped up to help.
With circulation numbers for newspapers dropping in recent years, it was getting harder and harder for the animal shelter to get enough papers from its staff and supporters. But, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported, the library has a lot of newspapers — roughly 2,000 — that it recycles every month.
So when the library offered to give its used copies to the shelter, it seemed as if the puppies would be well-equipped when it's time to go. And they go a lot. As San Francisco animal care supervisor Eric Zuercher told the Chronicle, they're "poop machines."
Media coverage of the shortage and the library's offer of help, also led to more newspaper donations from the city's dog lovers, says Deb Campbell, a spokesperson for the animal shelter.
But, it still may not be enough. As Zuercher said, those puppies are poop machines. And then there's the looming arrival of spring, when the shelter typically starts taking in more kittens and cats.
"It's a constant ongoing need [for newspapers], so it's not like we're good," Campbell says. "So we could be good today, but maybe not tomorrow."
And what if there aren't enough newspapers? What can be used in their place? Campbell says fabrics and blankets are options, but those can get too warm or the animals chew on them, causing blockages in their gastrointestinal systems.
"Newspapers are just the perfect thing," she says. "There really isn't a good alternative."