Animal shelters overcrowded one year after record adoptions

If you are an animal lover, you might understand the predicament that animal shelters find themselves in right now.

After record adoptions in the first year and a half of the pandemic, shelters are now overflowing with animals and they have few options to offload them.

Since animal shelters receive no federal funding, there is no database that compiles information on the capacity of shelters, but hundreds nationwide have appealed for help in due to a large number of admissions.

Fayetteville Animal Services in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is just one of them.

“You know, for a long time we only saw 10 dogs on the adoption floor and now it’s 22 and it’s a full house for us,” said Ryan Gutierrez, the shelter’s program administrator. “It’s still 22 years. As soon as we adopt a dog, we move [more] the dogs recoil [from the kennel to the shelter floor]. “

Gutierrez says the capacity of Fayetteville Animal Services really started to increase in mid-September and the reasons why are puzzling.

If you look at the admission numbers at many shelters, they are similar to where they were before the pandemic, but the economic pressure COVID-19 has brought has resulted in monetary donations, which largely consist of philanthropic donations. , were very low. This resulted in layoffs at the shelters and less dollars for operations – things that made it much more difficult to take care of the numbers of animals in those shelters.

“I know a lot of the calls I’ve received lately have been about people who have lost their homes or apartments,” Gutierrez said. “They have been kicked out and they don’t know what to do. They cannot live on the streets with an animal; they want to do the right thing.

“It’s hard to be so close to the public because you don’t have a lot of people,” added Luis Vazquez, an employee of Fayetteville Animal Services. “When you meet new people who want to take [animals] at home with them, [the animals] tend to get attached to us so that can be quite difficult at times.

To tackle the problem, some shelters have taken to social media. Posting animals to the shelter’s floor has always been common, but Fayetteville Animal Shelter has started posting “courtesy posts,” where it will post information about owners looking to get rid of their pets in the house. hope that a potential owner will see it and take the animal directly, allowing these animals to bypass the shelter system.

The process comes with risks as there isn’t the same ability to control potential owners the way shelters do, but Gutierrez says he hasn’t heard of any bad actors since his shelter did. .

“Fortunately, the courtesy display allowed many of these homeowner surrenders to relocate before they even walked through the shelter’s door,” Gutierrez said. “It’s better this way because the owner will know this animal better. The environment of the refuge scares the animals.

So far, the tactic has allowed Fayetteville Animal Services to pass through and keep these animals safe. Home services that offer euthanasia report being busier than ever, but staff like Gutierrez and Vazquez are hopeful that anyone with the ability and ability to care for a pet will come forward so that these animals can find the homes they deserve.

“It’s been pretty intense, but we’re doing our best with all the dogs we have,” said Vazquez.

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