Animal shelters nationwide are experiencing a substantial increase in owner surrenders of pets. The reasons for the need to surrender include, but are not limited to, financial difficulties, loss of residence, relocation to a new residence that does not allow pets, returning to work, and can no longer care for the pet, just don’t want the pet any longer, COVID is over, and I don’t need a pet anymore, etc.
The last excuse listed, “COVID is over, and I don’t need a pet anymore,” applies to much more than just pets. During COVID (and keep in mind we are not entirely out of the woods yet), people were forced to adjust their lifestyles to reduce the spread of the virus. Friends and family did not see each other face to face in some cases for over a year. Zoom became the new medium of choice for communication with families and friends meeting on a Zoom call once or more a week. People met new online friends and joined online or in-person groups that were safe and tested regularly. People met the love of their life, or so they thought, but suddenly, things changed once COVID came to a close.
I will use myself as an example. I am not a social butterfly, but I enjoy being with friends and family as much as the next guy. During COVID, I started to communicate with friends I hadn’t seen or talked to in over 25-years. These were kids I first met in elementary school. We Zoomed about every two weeks during COVID. I joined a band in my neighborhood. None of the musicians could play out at restaurants/bars and other venues because the venues were closed, so they placed a post on Nextdoor.com, and I answered it. We were all tested weekly to protect one another. We played together for two years, and once COVID let up a little, we played at some outdoor events. My wife and I Zoomed with family from across the nation at least monthly.
With COVID being far less dangerous but still contagious, things are much more relaxed, and people have returned to their old lives. In my life before COVID, I was not in a band, and I am no longer in a band after COVID. Several other band members went back to playing out for money at venues now open for business. The band broke up due to a lack of interest.
I no longer Zoom with friends or family, not because they don’t want to, but because their lives are once again filled with obligations and other interests like church choir, in-person educational classes, etc. The Zoom calls stopped due to a lack of interest.
But unlike many people, I did not lose interest or give up on my three dogs, two of which I adopted during COVID. They are part of my family, and all because my life returned to “normal,” which was a life without them, I wouldn’t give them up for the world. I recognize that not everyone can keep their pets, and I feel sad about that. I am sure many people hate having to part with their family pet but have no choice if they want to keep a roof over their head or feed their kids. I understand these situations. What I don’t understand are the people who come to the shelter, hand us the leash attached to a dog, and say, “Here, I don’t need this dog any longer. I’m going back to work.” Okay, so? My wife and I work full-time, too, but we care for three dogs. Why can’t you? The answer is that they can, but they won’t. The animals served a purpose and now are no longer needed. Again, I completely understand the people who have no choice and must surrender, but there are so many who surrender that are not in a predicament where they must. They have options and alternatives.
Please remember that most shelters are at capacity because of people surrendering their pets. Please explore these opportunities if you can find other safe and healthy options for your pet. If you are interested in adding a dog or cat to your family as a long-term member, please come to the shelter and empty one of the kennels. Please adopt, don’t shop.