All across the country, local animal shelters are at or near capacity. Overall, the rate of owners relinquishing both dogs and cats is only slightly up, according to a report created by the organization, Shelter Animals Count.
Stephanie Filer, the executive director at Shelter Animals Count, says there are fewer animals leaving shelters. Filer says shelters are reporting the reasons people give for dropping off their pets include financial challenges, housing and food insecurity.
“We always have the shelter population that represents what’s going on in the community,” Filer said.
There are other shifts happening inside animal shelters. Prior to the pandemic, more cats were entering shelters and staying behind. Now, cats are surpassing dogs in adoptions.
Other factors are pushing shelters to the brink.
“Typical space is limited because we’re having a shortage of staff as well, in particular frontline animal care,” Filer said. “It’s a combination of factors between staffing shortages, veterinarian shortages, and too many animals coming in and not enough animals going out.”
The good news is adoptions are still higher than pre-pandemic. Many animal welfare organizations have also been transitioning to providing more support to families with pets. They are providing resources to help keep animals in homes like dog and cat food, temporary crisis fostering, routine care and emergency care.
So far this year, 6% more animals have entered shelters than have left. Shelter Animals Count is forecasting that without some big change, the animal population imbalance in shelters will reach 10% nationally by the end of the year. That’s the highest in four years.