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People are abandoning their pandemic pets nationwide as returns to work loom

July 26, 2021, 6:31 PM UTC

If you thought the pandemic had showcased the worst of humanity, brace yourself.

Shelters in New York and Los Angeles are nearing capacity as more and more people who got pets during the pandemic are dumping them as the world inches back to normal.

Animal Care Centers of NYC saw 1,393 animals brought to them last month, more than twice the number of dogs and cats surrendered in February. Exact numbers weren’t available in Los Angeles, but Reuters reports the trend is on the rise there as well.

“We received prior to the pandemic five to 10 inquiries per month for people who couldn’t care for their dogs anymore. That’s like doubled since in recent months,” said Chloe Esperiquette, development coordinator at Wags and Walks adoption center in Los Angeles.

In Dallas, people are leaving bags of kittens and their mother on doorsteps and intakes at the Humane Society of Dallas County are twice as high as they were before the pandemic. And in Philadelphia, return rates are on the rise—and the number of foster homes is dwindling.

Some shelters are no-kill, meaning the animals won’t be euthanized, but not all of them are. New York’s ACC, for example, is not—though capacity is not usually a factor in deciding when to put an animal down.

The surge comes as kitten season is underway, the time of year outdoor cats tend to have litters and shelters experience another type of intake increase from local animal control officials. Pets returned to a shelter sometimes have a harder time finding a new home, as potential pet owners worry there are behavioral or health issues with the dog or cat.

The return to the office (assuming it’s not pet friendly) and resumption of social activities has resulted in a surge in business for one industry, though. Pet sitters report they’re busier than ever, checking in with pets who aren’t used to being alone and taking them for walks or just spending time with them.

However, they note, as much as dogs like being around people, they also enjoy a solitary snooze just as much, so the real anxiety in that time apart could be more centered on the pet owners.

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