Austin and Travis County’s animal shelter, Austin Animal Center, reached negative kennel space May 4, meaning there are more dogs than available kennels, according to a release from the city of Austin.

In an effort to free space, AAC will open its doors to all adopters for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived locally.

From May 6-9 the shelter will be open from 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and adopters will not be required to schedule an appointment. Masks and social distancing will be required, and AAC will monitor its building occupancy.

Additionally, all adoption fees will be waived.

Since May 5, 2020, AAC has operated all adoptions by appointment only. However, limited appointments and no-shows have created a challenge for the shelter, which houses more than 16,000 animals annually, according to the release.

AAC operates as an open-intake facility, meaning the shelter accepts lost, surrendered and stray animals from Austin and unincorporated areas of Travis County regardless of their age, species or health.

“The center has reached critical capacity for medium and large dogs and is in desperate need of help from the community,” the release states.

Those who previously scheduled appointments are still encouraged to keep their time slots to avoid lines. On May 10, AAC will return to its appointment-only restrictions, which can be made online.

Potential adopters can browse available cats and dogs using AAC’s website.