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Animal shelters face a potentially fatal pet adoption crisis – The Hill

Animal shelters face a potentially fatal pet adoption crisis – The Hill

The “pandemic pet” boom that captured headlines and the public imagination may have been more anecdote than fact, at least for the animal rescue community: Dog and cat adoptions actually declined in 2020.  

But the post-pandemic shelter crisis of 2022 looks very real.  

Shelters around the nation are packed to furry capacity. Animal rescues are understaffed, workers overwhelmed. Adoptions are lagging as the procession of families surrender dogs and cats they can no longer keep.    

Why? Animal advocates cite the particular decline associated with virtual work, a national housing shortage and the rising cost of kibble, among other factors.  

In the first nine months of 2022, a lot more animals entered shelters compared to left them by a margin associated with 7. 3 percent, according to a report by the particular nonprofit Shelter Animals Count. The figure represents 77, 000 stranded pets, and it covers only a fraction of the national shelter community.    

By one industry estimate , the number of cats and dogs facing possible euthanasia stands 100, 000 higher this year than last.  

“Nobody’s job description should have killing animals as one of the things on the list, ” said Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Pet Society, an Utah nonprofit that operates the nation’s largest sanctuary for homeless animals.  

Desperate pleas from overtaxed animal save workers have got made headlines across the nation.    

New York’s municipal shelter system has seen a 25-percent increase in surrendered pets, the trend driven by rent inflation plus pet-averse landlords .    

An Atlanta shelter designed to hold 80 creatures has been running nearly 3 00 dogs over capacity . Another inside Montgomery County, Texas, has housed more than 400 dogs in space designed to hold 180. At an overcrowded facility in nearby Brazoria County, “we’ve started stacking crates within the bathroom, ” a shelter worker told the Austin American Statesman.      

The national protection crisis arose from a cruel calculus of supply and demand in an industry that relies on the steady stream of pet adopters in order to take pets other families give up.    

Shelter intakes are upward 8 percent for canines and 1 percent for cats through September compared to 2021, according to Shelter Animals Count.    

Last year wasn’t very good in the particular pet ownership business, either. Total refuge admissions rose 6 % from 2020 to 2021 . More animals were admitted than adopted.  

Overflowing shelters have fed a national narrative of fickle owners returning pandemic pets. That is neither entirely true nor particularly fair, animal rights promoters say.  

A 2021 survey by the American Society for the Prevention associated with Cruelty in order to Animals found that most households that acquired pets during the COVID-19 pandemic still had the m the year later .    

People who did part with their animals often cited a housing change, typically to a residence that will did not allow pets, or a job change that left all of them unable to properly care for the animal.  

“And it’s heartbreaking, ” stated Christa Chadwick, vice president for shelter services at ASPCA. “When you’re in a position where you have to choose a house or your pet, no one makes that will decision lightly or easily. ” 

The particular pandemic pet phenomenon, often discussed as the source of the present problems, may have been overstated.    

The idea of the mass re-homing event, triggered by COVID isolation and loneliness, emerged as a pandemic subtopic in 2020. Many reports associated with a pandemic pet growth circle back to the 2021 ASPCA survey, which reported that almost one inside five U. S. households had adopted a dog or kitty throughout the pandemic.  

If the figure is correct, it didn’t move the particular needle really far in overall dog ownership. A National Pet Owner Survey by the American Pet Products Association found that 70 percent of U. S. families owned domestic pets in 2021, up through 67 % in pre-pandemic 2019: a scant increase.      

Ironically, animal shelters saw the 20-percent drop in adoptions and other “outcomes” from 2019 to 2020, based on Protection Animals Count, which maintains a nationwide database. Shelters also accepted many fewer animals in 2020.    

“Everybody says 2020 was such a good year for animal shelters, and really it wasn’t, ” mentioned Stephanie Filer, executive director of Refuge Animals Count.  

Families clamored in order to adopt household pets in the early months of the outbreak. But many shelters were closed, and adoption-ready pets ran short.    

Millions of family members looked elsewhere, acquiring house animals from neighbors and friends, breeders plus pet stores. One ASPCA survey suggests only 23 percent from the nation’s current population of dogs, and 31 percent of its collective cats, reached United states homes via shelters.    

The animal usage crisis is less about unwanted pandemic pets, pet advocates say, and a lot more about the post-pandemic economy plus societal shifts.    

Shelters possess faced a chronic lack of staff and volunteers since the early months associated with the outbreak. The family pet adoption market is sluggish.    

Potential adopters have worried about spiraling costs of food and veterinary treatment in a year associated with 8- plus 9-percent i nflation , and about remote-work privileges evaporating.  

“People are concerned regarding bringing the new family member into the particular household because of the economy, ” Castle said. “We’re seeing this inside every corner of the particular country. ” 

In years past, animal welfare agencies mobilized to transport dogs and cats from overcrowded shelters in order to facilities with space, a migration that has often moved animals from South to North.    

“Those shelters are all full now, ” Castle said.  

With nowhere else to go, thousands of pets may go to their doom. Animal workers fear 2022 might mark the second 12 months of retreat in the particular national campaign to end pet euthanasia.    

“We made the commitment in 2016 that we were going to take the country to n o-kill simply by 2025 , ” Fortress said. Within the following yr, the quantity of animals killed within shelters dropped from 2 million to 1. 5 million.  

The particular no-kill movement scored victories for five consecutive years, reducing the annual euthanasia total in order to 347, 500 in 2020. The “save rate” associated with shelter creatures rose through 64 % to 83 percent in that span.  

In 2021, however, euthanasia totals rose anew, reaching 355, 000.  

Castle and others fear the particular figure will rise higher in 2022. Shelter data analyzed by the Close friends nonprofit inside January suggest that roughly 60, 000 more dogs and 40, 500 more pet cats sat in shelters than one season earlier. Eleven months later on, the numbers are probably larger.  

“There are some animal shelters where they are having to make decisions they haven’t had to make in a long time, close to euthanasia, ” Chadwick stated.    

Some protection workers say they have never seen such overcrowding. Comparisons with past years are usually tricky, due to the fact the Shelter Animals Count number database goes back only in order to 2016.    

But the present adoption crisis is, without question, the worst the particular national shelter system offers seen within recent years.    

Filer’s nonprofit uses simple division to gauge whether the nation’s shelter population is growing or even shrinking, comparing the number of pets that enter and exit the system.    

In the first nine weeks of pre-pandemic 2019, roughly 3 percent of animals that joined shelters remained there. In 2020, when pet use passions went high, the “adoption gap” narrowed to at least one percent. Through the first 9 months of 2022, the particular gap appears at 7. 3 %.    

“Ideally, what we want is more dogs going out than coming in, ” Chadwick mentioned. “We don’t want them to be equal. ”

Looking for a way in order to help alleviate the pet-adoption crisis? Here are six options to consider .

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