Pet surrenders up at Seattle Humane, not likely to slow down

Mar 24, 2023, 3:47 PM | Updated: Mar 30, 2023, 4:09 pm

The number of pets being surrendered at Seattle Humane is on the rise — and it is not likely to drop anytime soon.

Right now, about 200 pets, on average, are given to the shelter each month from families who can no longer care for them.

“Over the past year, year-and-a-half, we’ve seen intakes very much on the rise, and they don’t seem to be slowing down,” Charlton said, who works with people surrendering pets every day.

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Some people may have the idea that a person who gives up their dog or cat simply has decided they don’t want their pet anymore, but Charlton said this is a misconception. In most cases, pet owners are forced to make a heart-wrenching decision because their circumstances have changed.

“Folks don’t bring in their pets just because they don’t like them,” they said. “It’s usually much more complicated, nuanced, and, frankly, really sad.”

Often, it is because of a person’s financial or housing situation. Charlton said in the average case, the amount of money standing between a person keeping or surrendering their pet is $250 or less.

“Maybe someone found a house, but they can’t afford the pet deposit fee, or there’s a hole in their fence, or their animal got picked up, but it doesn’t have its license updated, so it won’t be released to them unless they get it updated … or they need a certain surgery or treatment and they have a vet they want to work with, but they don’t have the money,” Charlton said.

A change in finances can also cause a person to need to find somewhere new to live — perhaps somewhere their pet will not be welcome.

“A lot of families are having to make decisions around housing — maybe they found somewhere to live where they can have two pets but not three pets, or they’re having to move in with a family member who already has a pet, or they’ve become homeless,” Charlton said.

They believe record inflation has played a significant role in people struggling to afford pet-related costs over the past year.

“Everything is increasing in cost, our wages aren’t necessarily increasing, people are just having a really hard time,” Charlton said.

Luckily, Seattle Humane is able to step in and help with some of these expenses. The shelter is able to provide vet care to people who cannot afford it, along with pet food, supplies, funds for pet deposits, and other resources. The Pet Food Bank supplies more than 30,000 meals a month.

The shelter can also foster pets for up to three months while a person finds a different living situation.

Through these efforts, Charlton said Seattle Humane is able to help about half of the 400 people who come to surrender their pet to keep their beloved cat or dog.

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With kitten season right around the corner, Charlton does not see the number of pet surrenders dropping anytime soon.

“We’re expecting to see a lot … it’s going to ramp up,” they said.

Seattle Humane takes donations, including pet food and gently used pet supplies, such as carriers, for pet families in need. The shelter also is in need of volunteers and foster families.

Follow Nicole Jennings on Twitter or email her here

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Pet surrenders up at Seattle Humane, not likely to slow down