Shelters filled with surrendered COVID pets

Red awaits adoption at Beaumont Animal Care.
Rachel Kersey

Humans aren’t the only ones the pandemic has shaken up. Local animal shelter operators say they’ve experienced an influx of animals now looking for homes.

“We get anywhere from five to 25 animals in daily,” said Beaumont Animal Care Adoption Foster and Marketing Coordinator Viviana Lopez.

“We’ve definitely seen a lot more surrendered (animals) because people are returning back to work. Many animals who were recently adopted are now getting surrendered because they don’t have the time for them.”

Lopez estimates that nearly 1,000 animals have been surrendered to the shelter in the past year-and-a-half. But one shelter can only do so much.

Over at The Humane Society of Southeast Texas, the story is much the same. Loss of jobs meant people couldn’t care for their pets anymore.

Others gave relocation as a reason for surrendering their animals.

“With COVID, in the very beginning, we actually had a lot of people coming to foster and things like that,” said intake and transport coordinator Breeana Porter.

“But then, as it’s gone on in the last year, unfortunately, our adoptions are starting to go down.

“Summertime is when we kind of see an increase in adoptions, and we’re just not seeing that right now.”

Porter speculated that the lifting of COVID restrictions also has contributed to the rising number of animals in the shelter.

After so long being inside, she thinks people are eager to go on vacation as opposed to adding another family member. That’s what she sees on social media anyway.

In an attempt to find more happy homes, Beaumont Animal Care is conducting its fourth-annual Clear the Shelter campaign. Adoption fees have been reduced from $70 to $20. The fee includes vaccinations, spay or neuter and a microchip.

“The first year we did it, we had almost 70 adoptions. Each year we just want to top that number,” Lopez said.

“We’re so desperate to get animals into new homes.”

Lopez gave a few examples of pets waiting for a forever home:

Fiesta is a 6-year-old Akita mix staying at Animal Care.

“She’s been pretty sweet. Usually Akitas are really high energy. They need to be kept busy like (German) Shepherds,” she said. “But I think because she’s older, she’s a little more laid back than most.

“But she’s still very active — definitely is going to need somewhere with a yard to play in.”

Fiesta likely had a previous honor because she was picked up with a collar. She has already been spayed, microchipped and she is up to date on vaccines.

Red is a Black Mouth Cur and only a few months old. She is a shy stray with a gentle temperament.

“She was nervous her first few days here but she’s come out of her shell a lot more,” Lopez said.

“She also does really well around other dogs. Her previous owner had her and two small dogs and cats so she does really well round everything.”

Although each of these animals needs a loving home, Lopez said it is important that they end up in the right home most of all.

“People aren’t realizing how much work animals can be,” Lopez said.

“It’s not someone you can just leave in your home all day while you’re out. A lot of people don’t realize it costs money, and it costs time and attention.

“And so when they realize they don’t have the time for it, they end up surrendering.”

Before adopting, she suggests people do their research — looking into the breed especially.

Some breeds of dogs, like Huskies, do not do well being left indoors for hours because they are high energy and vocal.

For those who are unable to adopt, the Humane Society of Southeast Texas is looking for people to foster their animals as well as volunteers.

“We used to do adoption events very regularly, usually at least twice a month at different pet stores and things like that. And we had to shut that down during COVID,” Porter said.

“We’re just now kind of starting to be able to do events again. But the problem is we don’t have volunteers that can help us run the events.

“And so it kind of puts a hindrance on us being able to get out there and get these animals exposure.”

Written by Rachel Kersey

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