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Animal Shelter Crisis 2022: 100,000 More Shelter Pets At-Risk of Being Killed Now Than This Time Last Year Due to Pandemic Problem

According to Estimates from Best Friends Animal Society

KANAB, UtahBest Friends Animal Society, a leading animal welfare organization, is warning of a national animal shelter crisis, with estimates that about 100,000 more dogs and cats in U.S. shelters are awaiting adoption than this time last year due to issues caused by the pandemic.

Estimates of current shelter data show that nearly 60,000 more dogs and 40,000 more cats are available for adoption from shelters now than this time last year.

“The Omicron surge has dramatically increased the strain on shelters by creating staffing shortages that limit shelter hours, decrease in-person volunteers, and reduce adoption events and pet care support,” said Julie Castle, CEO, Best Friends Animal Society.

Last summer, Best Friends conducted a survey of more than 150 shelters and animal organizations to gauge staffing issues caused by the pandemic. Respondents reported:

  • 88% were short on staffing.
  • 57% have cut hours or programs due to short staffing.
  • 41% are operating at 25% of normal staffing levels.
  • 62% are operating more than 10% below normal staffing levels.

As the pandemic presses on, things have only gotten more difficult for shelters. Best Friends has been hearing similar stories from partners from around the country about their challenges. One shelter in New Mexico which typically has five staff members taking care of 125 dogs and cats, reports only one employee showing up for work. Another in the state has eleven full-time staff members, of which only one can work due to a COVID-19 outbreak. A shelter in Arizona can’t retain employees or fill open positions. Time spent showcasing pets for adoption has been replaced with basic care to ensure the animals are safe and healthy.

“Intake has increased, and adoptions have decreased at shelters, contributing to a challenging environment for lifesaving,” continued Castle. “Adopting a pet can help to alleviate the stress shelters are experiencing, so if you can, I urge you to adopt now.”

“During a time when many people are experiencing uncertainties, including job changes, housing insecurity and economic issues, pets can be a source of comfort and companionship,” said Castle. “So now especially is the perfect time to add a new pet into your home.”

To find and adopt your next pet, visit bestfriends.org.

About Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Society is the leading animal welfare organization working to end the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025. Founded in 1984, Best Friends is a pioneer in the no-kill movement and has helped reduce the number of animals killed in shelters from an estimated 17 million per year to around 347,000. Best Friends runs lifesaving programs all across the country, as well as the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary. Working collaboratively with a network of more than 3,500 animal welfare and shelter partners, and community members nationwide, Best Friends is working to Save Them All®. For more information, visit bestfriends.org.