Lingering effects from Covid-19 cause animals to be surrendered to shelters faster than they are being adopted
Fort Collins, Colo. (Oct. 13, 2022) – Northern Colorado animal shelters are feeling a post-Covid pinch as more animals are entering shelters while fewer are being adopted. Animal Friends Alliance, Humane Society of Weld County, and Larimer Humane Society are teaming up to ask the community to open their homes to foster or adopted shelter pets.
Across the country, animal shelters are at – or exceeding – maximum capacity. Animals, especially dogs, are surrendered to shelters at a rate that is consistently outpacing adoptions. This overcrowding is due to several factors, including reduced numbers of adopters and foster parents compared to pre-pandemic levels and more pets and pet families losing their homes.
Covid has continued to impact financial and housing security for many Coloradans. When people struggle, their pets struggle too. Inflation, job loss, evictions, and other financial factors are causing more people to have to rehome their pets or give them up to shelters. Increasing rent, pet fees, and pet deposits prevent some pet owners from accessing affordable housing. This has been particularly challenging for the owners of medium and large dogs, who face additional size and breed restrictions for their furry friends.
The pandemic has taken its toll on animal shelters and dogs are the hardest hit. The spring and summer are generally the busiest time of the year for adoptions, but this year animals are staying at shelters longer, waiting for adopters to come forward. Nationwide, euthanasia rates in shelters may rise over the coming weeks. Already, in much of the southern United States where shelter populations are highest, shelters are euthanizing pets simply because they have nowhere to put them.
This creates additional pressure for shelters and rescues in pet-friendly communities like Northern Colorado as out-of-state shelters seek places where their animals will have a chance at adoption. “The number of requests we are receiving from new out-of-state shelter partners is drastically increasing,” says Sarah Swanty, executive director at Animal Friends Alliance. “Historically, we would receive requests from one or two partners in a week. Recently we got requests from 5 shelters in a single weekend. We help as many animals as we can, but the scope of the current need is overwhelming.”
“To counteract the increasing animal intake, we’re having to make operational adjustments,” explains Judy Calhoun, executive director of Larimer Humane Society. “We’ve not only scaled down our out-of-state transfer program, but we’ve also had to rely on deeply discounted or waived adoption fees to encourage families to open their homes to new pets. While that’s helped us to maintain a temporary balance, it’s not sustainable in the long run.”
Animal Friends Alliance, Humane Society of Weld County, and Larimer Humane Society are joining together, not only to raise awareness about the crisis currently facing animal welfare, but to ask our community for help. There are several ways that you can help animals in need:
- Adopt a pet. Visit one of your local shelters and ask about the pets who have been there the longest or find the animal who tugs on your heartstrings. It’s a great time to adopt because fuller shelters mean that there are a wide variety of ages, sizes, and types of pets to choose from.
- Foster a pet. Reach out to your local shelter and sign up to be a foster volunteer. Fostering not only helps that animal, but increases the capacity of the shelter to help another pet. Fostering for even a short time can give an animal a break from the shelter and make room for another animal in need.
- Donate to your local shelter. Additional financial support helps to ensure that shelters have the resources to provide for the wonderful animals in our care.
“This is a problem our communities can help us solve,” says Nicholas Gilman, executive director of Humane Society of Weld County. “Please help us by participating in our adoption, foster or donor programs so that our programs can reach the most animals.”
Animal Friends Alliance, Humane Society of Weld County, and Larimer Humane Society currently have over 100 animals waiting to be adopted. Visit their shelters and save a life today.