RACHEL BELLE

As people return to the office, pet surrenders have increased, are these related?

Jul 6, 2022, 12:00 PM | Updated: 12:21 pm
(Photo by Markus Winkler/ Unsplash)...
(Photo by Markus Winkler/ Unsplash)
(Photo by Markus Winkler/ Unsplash)

Animal shelters across the country are reporting a big uptick in the number of pets being surrendered. Seattle Humane says they’ve received several calls from the media, wondering if it’s people who adopted a pet during the pandemic who are surrendering them now that they’re going back to the office. But Seattle Humane says that’s simply not true.

“In Seattle, specifically, the return to office rate is really low,” said Libby Jones, Chief Operations Officer for Seattle Humane. “It’s still under 40% occupancy, so we’re not seeing this drastic increase of people returning to the office and not knowing what to do with their pet.”

Jones says they want to set the record straight.

“People commonly have a misperception about when a person comes to the shelter to surrender their animal, that they’re just giving them away or abandoning their animal,” Jones said. “That is not the case. We do not see that with our clients. Our clients love and are committed to their animals and want to do what’s in their best interest.”

So why are so many people surrendering their pets to shelters right now?

“Most people are bringing their pets in because of financial restraints,” said Jones. “We’re seeing a lot of people having to downsize their home or relocate their home or becoming completely unhoused. When an animal goes from one situation, like a home with a backyard, to an apartment complex, landlords and apartment management companies will say, ‘Hey, this animal is not doing well in this environment. You need to get rid of your animal.’ A lot of people don’t have a lot of options at their disposal so they’re turning to shelters for that help.”

Unfortunately, a lot of shelters can’t help. But Seattle Humane can; they have many programs in place to help keep your pet in your care, instead of having to surrender them to a shelter when times get tough.

“We have our Pet Owner Assistance Fund which allows us to be able to help pet owners with immediate monetary needs, whether it’s for a special procedure or if someone is having to transition housing, they can utilize our funds to help with an initial pet deposit,” Jones said. “These funds are for income-qualified individuals. We also have our SPOT program, that is specifically for transitional fostering. If someone needs medical care and doesn’t have anyone to care for their pet or if someone is becoming unhoused and doesn’t know how to access housing options that are pet friendly, they can apply to our SPOT program so we can do temporary fostering for their animal to allow them to stay in the care of their owner.”

Sadly, for the first time in five years, the national euthanasia rate is going up in shelters, partially because some of the pets being surrendered have serious behavioral problems. Luckily, Seattle Humane has a program that works with pets like these, so they can keep them with their original owner or get them back to an adoptable disposition. But in order to run all of these lifesaving programs, the shelter needs your help.

“Our number one ask is to donate to those funds so we can continue to provide community support,” said Jones. “But also you can foster, you can volunteer, you can bring pet food in, you can bring toys and different things.”

If you are struggling to afford pet care, reach out to Seattle Humane for help. 
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As people return to the office, pet surrenders have increased, are these related?