May 12, 2021 — Pet shelters across the U.S. are reporting higher-than-average rates of returns as the pandemic begins to wane.
Around this time last year, shelters reported a spike in adoptions as people experienced lockdown measures and wanted company at home. Now that people are readjusting to their previous routines, however, they’re returning to work and travel and feel like they can’t care for their pets anymore. Dogs, in particular, are being returned in record numbers.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, we absolutely saw a spike in people ready to adopt,” Ashley Roberts of Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Arlington, VA, told the BBC.
“They were off work or working from home or had lower schedules,” she said. “But we, in the past couple of months, have definitely seen some more returns.”
Sometimes people don’t think through the serious commitment of taking care of a pet, she said. As new pet owners return to their routines, they’re realizing that puppies and dogs may not fit their lifestyle, so they’re giving them back, according to KDVR, a Fox affiliate in Colorado.
“We made a lot of changes to our adoption process to prevent people from returning dogs once the pandemic ended,” Aron Jones, executive director of Moms and Mutts Colorado Rescue in Englewood, CO, told the news station.
“But for the past 4 months, we have had an extreme number of returns,” she said. “They are returning them instead of trying to make adjustments to keep their dog now that the world is opening up.”
The rescue has received more returns so far in 2021 than they typically have in an entire year. With more than 200 dogs available, they’re facing financial constraints and need more food to feed all of the animals.
In addition, lockdown measures prevented pet owners from getting their dogs spayed or neutered, so shelters are seeing an increase in the number of puppy litters that need new homes, the BBC reported.
However, not all shelters have seen an uptick in returns, according to WRGB, a CBS affiliate in New York. The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society, for instance, prepared new pet owners for the responsibility of adoption when the boom happened last year.
“The expectation is it’s a lifelong commitment for the life that you have this animal,” Ashley Bouch, CEO of the humane society in Menands, NY, told the news station.
“That’s always been a part of our process that we really want to find the best match,” she said. “We want to match and set everybody up for success.”