Snowball is among the Humane Society of Somerset County animals in need of a home.
According to Nancy Dantzig, shelter manager, the longtime owners of the 8-year-old dog accepted jobs that required travel and extensive time away from home. They opted to surrender Snowball to the shelter for a legitimate reason.
But as pandemic-related restrictions begin to ease across the country, some are concerned that pet owners may be neglecting or abandoning animals adopted at the height of the pandemic when they were laid off, lonely or bored.
“We definitely have seen an increase in strays,” Dantzig said. “And that may be the reason.”
At the Humane Society of Cambria County, Executive Director Jessica Vamos believes a growing number of people are looking to re-home their pets.
“I don’t think it’s just a concern,” Vamos said. “I think it’s a reality.”
“I did feel like there was an eagerness out there to adopt and add a new pet to the family (amid COVID-related lockdowns).”
Forever homes needed
According to Vamos, an increasing number of people are calling to inquire about surrendering their animals. Most, she believes, are for legitimate reasons.
“I know recently we’ve been dealing with a lot of family deaths or people going into nursing homes,” Vamos said.
She added, however, that people should acknowledge pet adoption as a long-term commitment before even applying.
“Five years from now, 10 years from, what does that family dynamic become?” she said.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, aka ASPCA, said they do not think the surrendering of animals is a widespread problem at this time.
ASPCA: Fostering saves lives
“We attribute this to the fact that even as animal shelters and rescue organizations have adapted their adoption policies during the pandemic, they continue to have conversations with adopters to ensure they are making good matches and that pets match their adopters’ lifestyles, even when those owners return to a post-pandemic schedule,” the ASPCA wrote in an email to the Daily American.
“During the first year of the pandemic, the ASPCA saw a 64(%) increase in animals going into foster homes through our New York City foster program and we expect that foster caregivers will continue to play an important role in supporting shelters in New York City and across the country. We hope that shelters can lean into this heartwarming response of eager foster caregivers for any owner surrenders they may receive. As there is always a risk that pet owners will not be able to provide adequate care for their pets during any crisis or disaster situation, it’s important for people, shelters, and communities to prepare for any animal welfare consequences that may result from this ongoing crisis.”
In Somerset, Dantzig remains hopeful that a surge in surrenders won’t become reality. She said that the shelter’s screening process has helped to prevent potentially bad situations for the animals and that she has only dealt with a handful of dogs and cats that were returned recently.
For anyone who is truly having problems with handling and caring for their pet, she asked the following: “Bring the dog in and don’t dump it.”