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'Pandemic pups' are being returned to shelters as owners go back to work

(Austin Animal Center/Facebook)

Everything felt grim in the summer of 2020 as the pandemic raged on and kept many away from family and friends, but there was one glimmer of hope: dogs and cats were being adopted in record numbers.

But now as people begin to go back to work in person and resume their former lives, thousands of "pandemic pups" are being returned to shelters, where they are reaching full capacity.

Last week, the Austin Animal Center opened its doors in person for the first time since the onset of the pandemic. The reason for reopening was less than hopeful, however: the center was out of kennel space and in desperate need of adoptions.

Along with less time to be spent with a pet, reasons for surrendering pets can lie in financial and housing hardships. According to, two of the top three reasons that pets are returned to shelters are due to financial or housing reasons.

Austin Pets Alive! reports it is seeing steady surrender rates, but there are fewer people willing to foster pets.

APA told KVUE that their plea to get more foster pet parents reached their nearly 150,000 followers, but only 55 people responded. Even fewer followed through.

For those who can no longer take care of their pet, the Animal Humane Society recommends trying to rehome the animal yourself before surrendering to a shelter. Making sure the animal is well-groomed, spayed or neutered can help increase adoptability, and the AHS also has a re-homing tool to help find a forever home for your pet.

If surrendering is the only option, the organization recommends looking for breed-specific nonprofit organizations to re-home your pet as well.


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