It’s been a difficult time at The Safe House lately and I want to talk about it. The reality is, it’s a difficult time in animal welfare. Our nation’s animal shelters and rescue organizations, a homeless pet’s best chance, are in crisis. The number of animals in need is significantly higher than it has been for years, the number of adoptions are down. Staffing, volunteerism and available foster homes are also down. None of this is good for the animals. In fact, Covid did not create a boon for homeless pets, despite news stories you may have seen.
Numerous reports last year said there was a large increase in adoptions. The statistics don’t bear that out. If you tried to get a “pandemic puppy” you likely believed that. For a while, I did too! However, national pet adoption numbers show there were fewer pets adopted in 2020 than in 2019.
The truth is the issue was largely a supply problem, not a demand increase. Shelters across the country shut down, severely restricted intakes, and required appointments for adoptions. Transports were often delayed due to mandated shut downs. This caused a supply shortage of adoptable animals. Rescue organizations, like ours, worked hard to fill the gap. While overall adoption numbers were down in 2020, our adoption numbers were 40% higher over the prior year.
Today we face new challenges. The Safe House is located in an underserved area that has been exceedingly hard hit by the economic downturn. After Covid created nationwide shortages in spay/neuter availability we are seeing more unwanted puppies born than we have in many years. In just two days this week The Safe House took in 52 puppies 6 mos old or younger. Today our partner shelters are asking us to take in still more.
As the pandemic has lingered, more people have lost jobs and homes. Shelters in our area are constantly at or over capacity and are turning away animals in need. It’s either that or euthanize animals already in their care. The result is animals like Marnie and her seven tiny tots that were abandoned when her owners lost their home.
Marnie’s babies are just 6 weeks old and they weigh about 2 lbs each. They would not have survived long in the cold of winter. The local shelter was over capacity and has been working round the clock to try to save lives. They reached out and asked us for help. Now Marnie and her babies are safe and warm. The pups are getting the care they need to grow up healthy and strong. Momma Marnie is getting some much needed support. I’m so grateful we could be here for these sweet kids.
My heart breaks for the ones we can’t help though. Our capacity here is limited too.
There are an estimated 100,000 more pets in the U.S. shelter and rescue system right now compared to the same time in 2021. National research shows fewer people are adopting pets than in 2019 and fewer people are fostering. Foster homes and adoptions are a homeless pet’s lifeline. Without them, they lose all hope.
2020 was our “lost year,” a year of isolation and missing out. In 2021 many people largely returned to a more “normal” life. People wanted to do All The Things and go All The Places. We had to make up for that lost time. My hope is 2022 will be a year of compassion. We need everyone to come together on behalf of homeless pets to avoid a tragic loss of lives. You can help by opening your home and heart to foster, volunteering some time to help with the many needs of getting animals adopted, or welcoming a new companion animal to your home through adoption.
Safe Hands Rescue is in need of foster homes! We provide food, crate, collar and leash, a few toys and all medical needs for your foster pup. We have a trainer to assist you with any challenges and a very supportive community of volunteers to help you out along the way. If you would consider fostering to help save lives you can learn more and fill out a foster application HERE. We will get back to you quickly to go over the program, answer your questions and see if it’s a good fit for you!
P.S. While I was writing this, 9 more puppies arrived here at The Safe House: