More owners are abandoning their pets at the shelter, blaming the economy

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – Shelters across the country are blaming inflation and rising rents for a rise in the number of owners abandoning their pets. It’s a sad reality that means shelters are overcrowded and need help.

Shelter leaders in the city of Jacksonville said Friday they are temporarily requiring appointments for someone to come in and legally give up their pet. It follows a recommendation from the National Animal Care and Control Association.

“This temporary change is necessary to allow our staff to focus on urgent and critical situations and to provide better service to the community. This will also allow staff to identify and prepare a location in the shelter for the animal to be housed if admission to the shelter is deemed to be the best option,” said Jennifer Walter, Animal Care Division Manager and protective services.

Walk-ins and unscheduled turn-ins for non-emergency situations will be suspended until further notice, city leaders said. Instead, CSPA asks anyone who finds a lost animal to call, text or email before transporting it directly to the shelter.

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Shelter workers focus on adoptions and foster families.

Pam Love and her husband were at the Jacksonville Humane Society on Friday to do just that. They adopted a pit bull named Lily.

“I had more love from her than from my husband for five years!” she said with a small laugh.

All joking aside, she and her husband are fulfilling a critical need by adopting a pet, as shelters across the country are reporting more owners are returning their cats and dogs due to the economy.

The national database, Shelter Animals Counts, shows populations across the country increased by 9.5% from April 2021 to April 2022. Factors include inflation, the higher cost of owning a pets, rising rents and evictions.

The Jacksonville Humane Society has hundreds of dogs and cats up for adoption, but administrators said they have the situation under control.

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“Where there are economic challenges, family pets will also be included in those challenges and we know that,” said Lawrence Nicolas, chief operating officer of The Humane Society. “That’s why it’s important that the community continue to support their local animal shelters.”

The nonprofit organization has a pet help center that serves nearly 4,000 families a year, distributing more than 150,000 pounds of food. It’s a free service to the public, but the organization is asking for more donations to keep up with demand.

“That’s why we have these programs in place to hopefully be able to help keep this family intact,” Nicolas added. “Whether it’s food for a week or a month or maybe a short-term boarding school while you’re transitioning, trying to move on to another living situation.”

In 2021, JHS and ACPS reported that 15,903 animals entered.

Wanderers made up 11,591 of the admission.

3,007 pets were abandoned by owners.

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From January 2022 to June 2022, ACPS and JHS reported an intake of 7,688 animals.

5,006 were wanderers. 1,386 were owner buyouts.

A JHS official said people can drop off donations at the food bank at 8464 Beach Blvd. or ship directly to the shelter using

CSPA said people can contact by phone or text at 904-362-0626 or by email at [email protected]

“We plan to keep this temporary policy in place until November 30 to coincide with hurricane season and peak admission months, or until shelter population is better aligned with care capacity.” , Walter said.

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