By Terri Estes

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), more than 23 million American households adopted a pet during the pandemic. Many were working from home. Kids were not in school. A puppy or kitten was a great distraction and fit nicely into this home life. Now, people are back in the office. Kids are back in the classroom and on the athletic fields. Who is home to take care of Fido? Not to mention, the economy is really tough right now.  Families are struggling to make ends meet and pet care costs money.

These factors have created the perfect storm of the population explosion in our shelters and rescues. Shelters Animal Count, a national database of shelter statistics, estimates the U.S. shelter population grew by nearly a quarter-million animals in 2023. Most shelters are busting at the seams right now. If the economy is tough on individual families, just imagine how hard it is on an overcrowded shelter that probably relies heavily on donations. This is causing many shelters that have not had to euthanize animals rely on this practice again to help control overpopulation.

Shelters around the country are trying to expand foster programs that send animals to temporary homes rather than overcrowded shelters. Many New York City shelters were keeping dogs in offices and hallways this past year, to avoid having to euthanize them. The city had to limit cat intakes into shelters this past summer, and then limited dog intakes during the fall.

So, if you have been thinking that it’s time to add a pet to your family, now is a great time to consider adopting from a local shelter or rescue group. If you are not sure, maybe try fostering a pet. You can also help by donating. If you can’t afford to donate money, rescues are always looking for old towels, blankets, dog toys and beds. Maybe you could donate time.  Volunteers are always greatly appreciated too!

For a list of local rescue groups in need – please contact The Rockaway Times.


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