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Our National Problem: Shelters and Rescues are Overwhelmed - Why has this Happened?

  • 1.  Our National Problem: Shelters and Rescues are Overwhelmed - Why has this Happened?

    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
    Posted 03-06-2023 08:35 AM
    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous

    Friends, I am new to the world of rescue, and volunteering with shelters and rescues in the Midwest.  I am hearing from people all over the country that shelters and rescues are overwhelmed with animals right now.  The Covid-19 Pandemic seems to be what people are pointing to, and that it is animals adopted during this time that are being surrendered. This does not seem to explain the explosion of puppies and kittens.  What am I missing?  I need to help the non-rescue world we are trying to recruit to help volunteer, foster, etc. I want them to understand how this happened and what we need to do to get back to what was a "normal" level of intake.  Thanks in advance.


    #AdmissionsandIntake(includingIntake-to-placement)


  • 2.  RE: Our National Problem: Shelters and Rescues are Overwhelmed - Why has this Happened?

    Posted 03-06-2023 10:44 AM

    So from what I have seen, this is a culmination of multiple factors coming together to create a crisis:

    • A recent study was released documenting roughly 2.7 million missed spay/neuter surgeries during the early days of the pandemic, when elective surgeries were mandatorily put on hold by states, and spay/neuter fell into that category. The impact of those additional births obviously has exponential impact. https://sheltermedicine.vetmed.ufl.edu/2022/09/13/impact-on-spay-neuter-surgeries-due-to-covid-19-pandemic-threatens-pet-overpopulation/
    • An ongoing veterinary shortage- meaning that even though we can do more s/n again, there are not enough people out there to do it in the high quality, high volume way our industry requires. 
    • Overall economic insecurity and inflation. The resumption of evictions.
    • Fewer pet-friendly housing options, particularly for young people who may considering adopting, but cannot have certain breeds or certain sizes of dogs in their home.
    • A reduction in the number of animals moving through non-profit organizations in many communities, with a disproportionate burden being placed on the  municipal shelters. https://www.shelteranimalscount.org/organization-types-2022-analysis/

    Interested to hear what others feel about this issue as well!



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    Alexis Pugh
    Director, Memphis Animal Services
    www.memphisanimalservices.com

    Organizational Management
    & Pet Support Services Specialist
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  • 3.  RE: Our National Problem: Shelters and Rescues are Overwhelmed - Why has this Happened?

    Posted 03-16-2023 01:42 PM

    Alexis this was a really great answer - thank you (there were several on there I hadn't been thoughtful enough about contributing to the current population issue). 

    I also heard one of the reps from PetHealth (who own PetPoint) say in some session that research coming out of the private veterinary world indicates that younger generations (I assume Millennials and Gen Z) are getting dogs from breeders in higher numbers than was true for Gen X. I have been desperately trying to put my hands on this data since then (it was over a year ago!), but can't find public research to that end. That said, if it's true, it's definitely a moment for shelters to figure out *why* that might be true - why might we be losing that generation?



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    Devon Smith
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  • 4.  RE: Our National Problem: Shelters and Rescues are Overwhelmed - Why has this Happened?

    Posted 03-17-2023 09:35 PM

    I've seen this as well, although I can't place where. But from what I remember the article basically said younger generations perceive rescues/shelters as too judgmental or difficult to adopt from. I also think the increase in breeder purchases comes from the fact that more people are having to rent for longer and many rentals have restrictions on breed/size of the dogs. So people who want dogs are going for the small breeds which are scarce in a lot of shelters, so they turn to breeders. Small dogs also inherently cost less to keep on a daily basis, as they consume less and products for small dogs are generally cheaper, and in the current economy a lot of people are struggling, so the costs of a large dog may be too much for them.



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    Samantha Maurice
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  • 5.  RE: Our National Problem: Shelters and Rescues are Overwhelmed - Why has this Happened?

    Posted 03-16-2023 03:55 PM

    Agree with you. We are seeing more animals sitting and most are large breeds. We provide resources to several clients a day for rehoming as we are over capacity with a handful of dogs over 400 days. Lack of true pet friendly housing, including pet rent/deposits is a real issue where we are. We are working to move towards being an education/resource center first so we can be a true shelter (there for those who really need us). However, as we have been over capacity for over a year now it is difficult as low staffing keeps us surviving each day, but  not able to commit time/effort towards really digging ourselves out. We have seen more puppies in the last few weeks than ever before in such a short time. Although we offer spay/neuter for low income families, the need outweighs our little facilities abilities and vet costs are so high with long waits.  

    We have finally gained more support from our City which should increase reach and opportunities (fingers crossed).  Trying to increase our foster base and include dogs for enrichment/socialization which  we have not done historically (and don't currently have the staff to support. Wishing everyone on here luck!



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    Ashley Milo
    Chula Vista Animal Care Facility
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  • 6.  RE: Our National Problem: Shelters and Rescues are Overwhelmed - Why has this Happened?

    Posted 03-17-2023 04:15 AM
    Thank you for the links, Alexis.  Many of these points make sense.  I see an effect locally.  About 8 years ago, a low cost s/n clinic opened and we saw a slow decline in intake, as well as speedier surgery appointments for all animals in the shelter- which helped adoptions.  In 2018, the vet left and they have not been able to replace her.  The number of animals we intake creeped back up and we now drive 2 hours with a van load of animals to low cost S/N appointments-once or twice a month.  The vet shortage is really impacting the progress animal welfare was starting to make pre-covid.