YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) – “Animal shelters prepare to surrender,” warned a June 24, 2020 headline in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
“I understand why they would think that,” Steven Martinez, executive director of the York County SPCA, said Tuesday of expert predictions and public perceptions, based on stories of individuals abandoning their pets. as (for example) they started going to the office again.
“If they’ve heard of people abandoning their pets, it’s just an anecdotal data point,” Martinez said. “But that doesn’t really represent a bigger trend that we’re seeing at the local level or even at the national level.”
In fact, the local trend is exactly the opposite: The York County SPCA – which, like many shelters, adopted almost all of their animals at the start of the pandemic – has received 24 returned pets so far in 2021. , compared to 36 during the same period. period (from January 1 to May 11) in 2020.
National organizations corroborated the local data.
“We’re not aware of any data to support this is a trend,” Kirsten Peek, media relations manager for the Humane Society of the United States, said of reports of pet surrender. . “We understand that these reports are anecdotal.”
“Based on our conversations with animal welfare and housing professionals across the country, this trend is not currently evident at the national level,” said the American Society for the Prevention of cruelty to animals) in a statement issued by a spokesperson. (The full statement is below.)
To be clear: people are abandon the animals – but not, on the basis of the available data, in greater numbers than usual. Pandemic or no pandemic, Martinez said handing over an animal is the last resort and can often be avoided by calling a shelter like his.
“Often the challenges people face can be overcome with just the education, practice, resources and training that we are able to provide,” he said.
Even shelter workers, some of them staying in their homes at the start of the pandemic, couldn’t resist one or two impulsive pet adoptions. Tiffany Franck, director of development for the York County SPCA, but not (before the pandemic) pet owner, wanted a cat. Her husband, Ethan Pfautz – working in another industry but by her side at home – loved dogs. The compromise?
“We first met our raven cat in April 2020, then Penny came to join us in July,” she said, pointing to the couple’s dog. She says the four are happy together.
Martinez said that while the idea that surrenders would arise seemed plausible, the reality is just as easy to understand – precisely because of the duration of the pandemic.
“People have been managing the transition to their homes for 14 months,” he said. “This animal is now part of their life. So, they will not return a member of their family.
Here is the full ASPCA statement:
We are not seeing an increase in owner transfers at the ASPCA Adoption Center in New York City, and based on our conversations with animal welfare and accommodation professionals across the country, this trend does not is currently not evident at the national level. We attribute this to the fact that even though animal shelters and rescue organizations have adjusted their adoption policies during the pandemic, they continue to have conversations with adopters to make sure they are having good matches and that the animals match the lifestyle of their adopters, even when those owners revert to a post-pandemic schedule. We encourage all pet owners who are considering re-housing their pet to contact the shelter or rescue organization they have worked with so that staff can provide advice and assistance.
In the first year of the pandemic, the ASPCA has seen a 64% increase in the number of animals entering foster homes through our New York City fostering program and we expect what caregivers continue to play an important role in supporting shelters in New York and across the country. We hope shelters can rely on this heartwarming response from eager care-seeking foster families for any landlord transfer they may receive. As there is always a risk that pet owners will not be able to provide adequate care for their pets during a crisis or disaster situation, it is important that people, shelters and communities look after themselves. prepare for any consequences on animal welfare that may result from this ongoing crisis. .
– ASPCA statement