LI shelters, rescue groups to deal with the influx of surrendered pets, and low donations

Too few donations and too many owners of dogs, cats, rabbits, reptiles, and other pets — some of whom were adopted when COVID-19 first raged — are making the fall season difficult for local shelters and rescue groups.

Long Island rescuers said the romance of bringing in a creature with fur or scales for fun and companionship to relieve boredom during quarantine has visibly faded.

“We’ve called some people and they say, ‘Now I’m back at work, I don’t have time for this,'” said Laurie Ketcham, a wildlife rehabilitation specialist with the Save the Animals Rescue Foundation.

The foundation only accepts abandoned wild animals or critters from other sanctuaries—not shelters—so the animal’s history is often unknown.

However, the timing indicated that these were epidemic adoptions.

“We’re not sure what their stories are, but their age usually lines up with getting it in the last two or three years,” she said.

They are no longer pets because of the pandemic — but indirectly, the reason may be the impact on the economy, said Laurette Richen, executive director of Stony Brook’s Long Island Bulldog Rescue.

“Give up is the way there. I get four to five a day, which is awful, because some people have spent $3,500 to $7,000, and more for their bulldogs.”

“I’ve been doing this for 23 years, and this is the worst season because adoptions are down, donations are down, and people are stressed about money, so they don’t adopt that many dogs.”

The cost of raising an animal has also gone up with the price of pet food and veterinary services rising along with inflation.

Nicole A. said: “There has been an uptick in owner surrender as a result of the pandemic,” Maurice Tomilovich, director of development and marketing, said in an email, at the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation in Hampton Bays.

Summit, a large and playful 3-year-old dog from Texas, was adopted as a puppy. “I think a parent lost his job… It’s just because the cost of food has gone up and his family can no longer care about the summit,” said Patricia Dechong, executive director. “People cried when they had to come down [it] turning off.”

Fortunately, another family of this tan and mahagony spotted dog has already been found.

The effects of any surrendered pets for adoption out of pandemic motives appear to be uneven, with some shelters not seeing an increase. But the reasons for returning an object can be a little vague, and include lack of time, misbehavior, costs, illness, eviction, or misleading holiday gifts.

“We’re starting to see people surrender pets, but we don’t know yet if a pet went outside during a pandemic — but there’s never a shortage of pets delivered, regardless,” said Grace DeVita, director of Second Chance. Animal Rescue Company of Levittown.

However, the facility doesn’t see giving up elsewhere, said Joanne Anderson, Outreach Coordinator for Last Hope Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation in Wantage, saying, “I keep reading our shelters are overcrowded because the dogs are coming back, and ‘No, we’re not.’ ”

Several experts also said they were surprised by the influx of seemingly easier-to-care-for pets, dubbed “micro furry.”

“We get a little more give in, but I think the rabbits and guinea pigs we like the most are,” said Chris Elton, director of the Babel Animal Adoption and Rescue Center. “On a positive note, if you are looking for a rabbit, we have a wide variety of all shapes, sizes, and looks.”

The rescuers agreed on one problem: Long Island now has too few vets to service all of these animals, as it seems a number of them have retired early rather than try to stay open during the pandemic.

“There is a shortage of veterinary services on Long Island,” Elton said.

Although the number of private practice veterinarians has been growing fairly steadily in recent years, the country’s total fell to 73,900 in 2021, from 76,552 in 2018, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, which is based in Schaumburg, Illinois.

And as inflation continues to rise, the remaining veterinary groups, like many practitioners, have raised their bills.

“Since 2020, veterinary costs have nearly doubled,” said Richen.

At the same time, a number of shelters say donations have fallen, possibly due to alarming inflation and the resulting economic insecurity.

“The donations are very small,” DeVita said.

Rescue workers said that as people became more comfortable with vaccines – and crowds resumed – fundraisers, but attendance still stalled.

Before the pandemic, the Levittown shelter said bingo games could draw 300 people. “Now that COVID is over, our maximum is probably 120 or 130,” Anderson said.

To reduce surrenders, animal rescuers say they microchipped all pets, offer training assistance — and thoroughly screen applicants to make sure they understand how long their pet will live, what care they need, and whether they’re a strong match.

For example, Ketcham is looking for someone to adopt a python or Caiman Red Tail Boa Constrictor.

“They have to go to someone who isn’t looking to breed, who wants the responsibility of taking care of a pet that isn’t cuddly and won’t love you,” Ketcham said.

Likewise, turtles looking for homes, she says, won’t want to go for a walk.

“They just want to be,” Ketcham said.

Too few donations and too many owners of dogs, cats, rabbits, reptiles, and other pets — some of whom were adopted when COVID-19 first raged — are making the fall season difficult for local shelters and rescue groups.

Long Island rescuers said the romance of bringing in a creature with fur or scales for fun and companionship to relieve boredom during quarantine has visibly faded.

“We’ve called some people and they say, ‘Now I’m back at work, I don’t have time for this,'” said Laurie Ketcham, a wildlife rehabilitation specialist with the Save the Animals Rescue Foundation.

The foundation only accepts abandoned wild animals or critters from other sanctuaries—not shelters—so the animal’s history is often unknown.

However, the timing indicated that these were epidemic adoptions.

“We’re not sure what their stories are, but their age usually lines up with getting it in the last two or three years,” she said.

They are no longer pets because of the pandemic — but indirectly, the reason may be the impact on the economy, said Laurette Richen, executive director of Stony Brook’s Long Island Bulldog Rescue.

“Give up is the way there. I get four to five a day, which is awful, because some people have spent $3,500 to $7,000, and more for their bulldogs.”

“I’ve been doing this for 23 years, and this is the worst season because adoptions are down, donations are down, and people are stressed about money, so they don’t adopt that many dogs.”

The cost of raising an animal has also gone up with the price of pet food and veterinary services rising along with inflation.

Nicole A. said: “There has been an uptick in owner surrender as a result of the pandemic,” Maurice Tomilovich, director of development and marketing, said in an email, at the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation in Hampton Bays.

Summit, a large and playful 3-year-old dog from Texas, was adopted as a puppy. “I think a parent lost his job… It’s just because the cost of food has gone up and his family can no longer care about the summit,” said Patricia Dechong, executive director. “People cried when they had to come down [it] turning off.”

Fortunately, another family of this tan and mahagony spotted dog has already been found.

The effects of any surrendered pets for adoption out of pandemic motives appear to be uneven, with some shelters not seeing an increase. But the reasons for returning an object can be a little vague, and include lack of time, misbehavior, costs, illness, eviction, or misleading holiday gifts.

“We’re starting to see people surrender pets, but we don’t know yet if a pet went outside during a pandemic — but there’s never a shortage of pets delivered, regardless,” said Grace DeVita, director of Second Chance. Animal Rescue Company of Levittown.

However, the facility doesn’t see giving up elsewhere, said Joanne Anderson, Outreach Coordinator for Last Hope Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation in Wantage, saying, “I keep reading our shelters are overcrowded because the dogs are coming back, and ‘No, we’re not.’ ”

Several experts also said they were surprised by the influx of seemingly easier-to-care-for pets, dubbed “micro furry.”

“We get a little more give in, but I think the rabbits and guinea pigs we like the most are,” said Chris Elton, director of the Babel Animal Adoption and Rescue Center. “On a positive note, if you are looking for a rabbit, we have a wide variety of all shapes, sizes, and looks.”

The rescuers agreed on one problem: Long Island now has too few vets to service all of these animals, as it seems a number of them have retired early rather than try to stay open during the pandemic.

“There is a shortage of veterinary services on Long Island,” Elton said.

Although the number of private practice veterinarians has been growing fairly steadily in recent years, the country’s total fell to 73,900 in 2021, from 76,552 in 2018, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, which is based in Schaumburg, Illinois.

And as inflation continues to rise, the remaining veterinary groups, like many practitioners, have raised their bills.

“Since 2020, veterinary costs have nearly doubled,” said Richen.

At the same time, a number of shelters say donations have fallen, possibly due to alarming inflation and the resulting economic insecurity.

“The donations are very small,” DeVita said.

Rescue workers said that as people became more comfortable with vaccines – and crowds resumed – fundraisers, but attendance still stalled.

Before the pandemic, the Levittown shelter said bingo games could draw 300 people. “Now that COVID is over, our maximum is probably 120 or 130,” Anderson said.

To reduce surrenders, animal rescuers say they microchipped all pets, offer training assistance — and thoroughly screen applicants to make sure they understand how long their pet will live, what care they need, and whether they’re a strong match.

For example, Ketcham is looking for someone to adopt a python or Caiman Red Tail Boa Constrictor.

“They have to go to someone who isn’t looking to breed, who wants the responsibility of taking care of a pet that isn’t cuddly and won’t love you,” Ketcham said.

Likewise, turtles looking for homes, she says, won’t want to go for a walk.

“They just want to be,” Ketcham said.

what do you know

  • Shelters and local rescue groups say it’s less donations and more ownersSome of them have adopted pets during the pandemic.
  • People return to work in the office They say they don’t have the time to spend with the animals that they did at home.
  • Inflation and rising costs Experts say veterinary services and pet food can also be a factor.

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