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US animal shelters are filling up

Apr 4, 2022, 3:34 PM | Updated: Apr 7, 2022, 5:33 pm
Dog at animal shelters...
Tiny Tot and Little Bitty wait for their adopters to arrive and pick them up at Best Friends Animal Society in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. Photo credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

KANAB, Utah — A great number of pets around the nation wait on adoption, as animal shelters recover from the pandemic.

Best Friends Animal Society, a national animal welfare organization based out of Southern Utah, said that 100,000 more dogs and cats are available to be adopted from shelters throughout the nation.

Pet adoption boomed in the beginning

Temma Martin, the public relations manager for Best Friends Animal Society, told Dave & Dujanovic there was a 93% increase in people fostering animals within the first week of things shutting down. Along with this, people adopted or purchased more than 10 million pets in the first year of the pandemic.

“A lot of people did get puppies, who maybe haven’t raised a puppy,” Martin said. “Puppies are a lot of work. Eight months, nine months, a year later they find themselves with an adult dog, sometimes a large breed adult dog. Those animals, if they didn’t get the proper training and socialization, can be difficult.”

Martin said some people ill-prepared for pet ownership have reached out to her for guidance on dogs they adopted at the beginning of the pandemic. She said that owners have a responsibility to do everything they can to help pets fit into their families.

Animals shelters try their best to keep pets in a home, according to Martin. For overwhelmed owners, some animal shelters offer resources like free obedience classes or pet food.

According to Martin, shelters received a great amount of support at the start of the pandemic. Now that people are returning to work, shelters are seeing more animals and less adoptions.

Julie Castle, the CEO of Best Friends Animal Society, said that the surge caused by the omicron variant increased strain on shelters. It created staffing shortages, decreased in-person volunteers, and reduced adoption events and pet-care support.

“It’s a variety of things that are happening between more animals coming in and not as many getting adopted out,” Martin said. 

How can you help?

Martin said the biggest thing those who want to help can do is get involved. She encourages looking into foster programs and adopting pets from shelters. 

“We’re all in this together and we’re all trying to help the animals in our community,” Martin said. “Get involved and help however you can and that will make a big difference.”

This article has been updated to give attribution for the interview with Temma Martin and add clarity to the number of animals in shelters now and during the pandemic.

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US animal shelters are filling up