Shelters in Danville and Pittsylvania County are seeing a surge in the number of animals brought to their facilities.
Pet owners with no more time to care for their animals after returning to work following the pandemic are partly to blame, said area shelter directors.
Inflation is also playing a role.
“This is the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Paulette Dean, director of the Danville Area Humane Society.
The shelter took in 500 animals in June — nearly double the normal 200-300 animals.
‘We’re getting so many from other areas, because other facilities are turning them away,’ said Dean.
The society took in 876 dogs and 1,513 cats in 2021, a total of 2,389 animals. Of those, 177 dog and 587 cats came from other localities where facilities had rejected them, Dean said.
People are also reading…
Pittsylvania Pet Center in Chatham, which usually brings in about 2,100 to 2,200 animals per year, has seen a 20% increase in volume since last fall, said director Brent Weinkauf.
The trend is happening animal shelters all over the country, Weinkauf said.
“Everyone’s full right now,” he said.
According to a report from the Shelter Animal Count National Database, community intakes (not including transfers from other facilities) are up quality by about 7% this year through June, compared to the same period last year.
There was an increase of 11% for intakes of dogs and 3.2% for cats, according to the report.
However, community intakes are about 15% lower in 2022 than in 2019, according to the report.
“The situation is not unique” [to Danville],” said Dean. “It’s happening all over the United States. Everyone is blaming it on the pandemic.”
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic when many people were out of work and isolating at home, pet-seekers came into shelters and scooped up animals, Dean said.
“Now people are back to work,” she said. “The same thing happened after 9/11.”
“Once people went back to work … a lot of people didn’t have time to take care of their animals,” Weinkauf said.
Inflation has also been a factor as household expenses have increased, she added.
“We’re getting a lot of animals because people cannot afford medical treatment for them,” Dean said.
Escalating prices have left pet owners unable to handle the added expense of having animals, she said.
“Inflation has definitely not helped,” Weinkauf said, adding that there’s an extra $500 in monthly living expenses for households.
The Pittsylvania Pet Center has so far brought in 895 animals this year, with 390 adoptions so far, Weinkauf said. The facility, which opened in 2017, has capacity for 200 animals, and currently houses 193, he said.
A no-kill facility, the county’s pet center has an adoption fee of $75 for adult dogs, $155 for puppies and $35 for senior dogs, Weinkauf said. The adoption fee for cats is $75.
“We still have very, very affordable rates,” he said.
Through a program with the Bissell Pet Foundation, the facility is offering a reduced adoption fee of $25 for pets until the end of July.
The facility has no timetable for holding its animals, and it does not transfer animals to facilities that practice euthanasia, he said.
“We will hold on to it until we get it adopted into its forever home,” Weinkauf said. “There is no timetable. We stand dedicated and committed to the overall welfare of our animals until they’re adopted.”
As for the Danville Area Humane Society, it’s not a no-kill facility. Its euthanasia rate for animals was 97% in 1992 and was about 50% in 2020, Dean said.
Out of the 876 dogs received last year at the society last year, 277 were euthanized, with 77 at the request of the owner and 24 on recommendations from veterinarians, Dean said.
As for the remainder of the dogs, 160 were reclaimed by the owner, 160 were adopted and 215 were transferred to other agencies.
As for the 1,513 cats, 1,077 were euthanized, with 72 at the request of the owner, and 36 on recommendation from veterinarians.
Just 16 cats were reclaimed by their owners, 249 were adopted and 101 were transferred to other agencies, Dean said.
The adoption fee at the humane society is $100, including spaying and neutering, health exam, rabies shot and a microchip, Dean said.
The society has no set policy on how long it keeps an animal.
“It depends on their health, behavior, adoptability,” Dean said. “We’ve had animals here for months and months.”
The shelter’s capacity varies depending on the size of the animals, their behavior and the number of kittens or puppies in a litter, she said.