Adopted at height of Covid-19 pandemic, New York pet owners now returning them to shelters as restrictions lifted

Pets that were adopted at the height of Covid-19 pandemic are now being returned to New York City pounds. — Pictures by Felicia Ann
Pets that were adopted at the height of Covid-19 pandemic are now being returned to New York City pounds. — Pictures by Felicia Ann

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 — Dogs and cats that were adopted at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic now find themselves abandoned at New York City shelters as the city lifts restrictions.

Quoting NYC animal advocates, New York Post reported that 1,393 animals were brought into Animal Care Centres (ACC) last month, more than double the number in February which was 631 dogs and cats.

While no one is sure exactly what is causing the pet population spike, the numbers have gone up every month since February, which is when eligibility for the Covid-19 vaccine was extended, and the pandemic began to lift.

“Basically, in February we were averaging 21 incoming pets a day. In June, we averaged 47 new pets every day, and we are on a trajectory to be averaging 60-80 pets a day through the summer,” ACC spokesman Katy Hansen told The Post.

Hansen said half of the pets were given up by their owners because of “landlord issues.”

“This could be that people are having to move due to financial hardships. We are also nervous about the impact that the lifting of the [pandemic] eviction moratorium may have on potential pet surrenders,” she said.

This was in contrast to the start of the pandemic where shelters saw a surge in adoptions.

That demand was driven by “lonely” and “scared” New Yorkers, many living alone, said Hansen. 

Hansen said there was a “huge rush” for pet adoptions during the lockdown, with ACC at one point down to just 125 animals.

Now ACC is directly caring for 633 animals, she said, and fostering hundreds more with the assistance of volunteers.

“Although it was a great ‘problem’ to have at the time, it seems this summer has completely turned around that balance, and shelters are finding themselves at or almost at-capacity, in desperate need of adopters and/or fosters,” she said. 

“We have a lot, and demand has been dropping,” she added.

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