JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Shelters across the country are blaming inflation and rising rent for an increase in owners surrendering their pets. It’s a sad reality that means shelters are overfilling and in need of help.
Jacksonville’s city shelter leaders said Friday that they’re temporarily requiring appointments for someone to come by and legally give up their pet. It follows a recommendation by the National Animal Care and Control Association.
“This temporary change is necessary to allow our staff to focus on urgent and critical situations, and to provide better service to the community. It will also allow staff to identify and prepare a location in the shelter for the animal to be housed if shelter admission is determined to be the best option,” Animal Care and Protective Services Division Chief Jennifer Walter said.
Walk-ins and unscheduled surrenders for non-emergency situations will be paused until further notice, city leaders said. Instead, ACPS is requesting that anyone who finds a lost pet call, text, or email before transporting them directly to the shelter.
Shelter workers are stressing adoptions and fostering.
Pam Love and her husband were at the Jacksonville Humane Society Friday doing just that. They adopted a pit bull named Lily.
“I’ve had more love from her than I have from my husband for five years!” she said with a chuckle.
Jokes aside, she and her husband are filling a critical need by adopting a pet this as shelters across the country are reporting more owners are returning their cats and dogs because of the economy.
The national database, Shelter Animals Counts, shows populations across the country rose 9.5% from April 2021 to April 2022. Factors include inflation, higher cost of pet ownership, rising rent, and evictions.
Jacksonville Humane Society has hundreds of dogs and cats up for adoption, but administrators said they had the situation under control.
“Where there’s economic challenges, families’ pets are going to be included in those challenges too and we know that,” said Lawrence Nicolas, the chief operating officer of the humane society. “That’s why it’s important that community still continues to support their local animal shelters.”
The nonprofit has a Pet Help Center which serves nearly 4,000 families a year, giving out more than 150,000 pounds of food. It’s a free service to the public, but the organization is asking for more donations to keep up with demand.
“That’s why we have these programs in place to hopefully be able to help keep that family intact,” Nicolas added. “Whether it is food for a week or a month or maybe some short-term boarding while you are in transition, trying to move into another living situation.”
In 2021, both JHS and ACPS reported 15,903 animals came in.
Strays accounted for 11,591 of the intake.
3,007 pets were surrendered by owners.
From January 2022 to June 2022, ACPS and JHS reported an intake of 7,688 animals.
5,006 were strays. 1,386 were owner surrenders.
JHS official said people can drop donations off at the food bank at 8464 Beach Blvd. or ship directly to the shelter using jaxhumane.org/Amazon.
ACPS said people can reach out by phone or text at 904-362-0626 or email at PetSafetyNet@coj.net.
“We anticipate keeping this temporary policy in place through November 30 to coincide with Hurricane Season and peak intake months, or until the shelter population is better aligned with the capacity for care,” Walter said.