‘Pandemic animals’ fill California shelters as state reopens, people return to work


A dog at the San Diego County Animal Shelter. File photo by Chris Stone

Pet adoptions have increased during the coronavirus pandemic as people in detention seek companionship. But as the world has opened up again, the future looks less rosy for an increasing number of animals being sent to shelters or adoption centers by owners without the time or money to do so. take care of it.

“In the rescue world, we kind of saw it coming,” said Chloe Esperiquette, development coordinator at Wags and Walks Adoption Center in Los Angeles.

“We received five to 10 inquiries per month before the pandemic for people who could no longer take care of their dogs,” she said. “It’s like doubled in recent months.”

Wags and Walks, like many similar establishments, is back at full capacity.

“Each year in the United States, 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized,” including 670,000 dogs, said Esperiquette. “At Wags, we save around 1,000 dogs a year. It is certainly not enough.

Remissions of dogs to shelters have risen sharply in recent months as owners in poorer communities lost income or their homes during the pandemic, said Allison Cardona, deputy director of Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control, which oversees animal shelters.

Private rescue centers looking to find new homes for abandoned animals are also facing an increase in dog returns.

Glen Zipper, executive producer of the “Dogs” and “Cat People” docuseries on Netflix, found his calling to save animals after taking a pit bull puppy he rescued from the streets to the nearest shelter. To his horror, he was told he would be euthanized.

Zipper adopted the puppy and left his job as a New Jersey attorney to work there, before becoming a television producer.

“By working with animals, finding homes for animals and helping to save animal lives, I feel like I have a purpose,” Zipper said. “Every morning I wake up and feel like I am making a difference.”

Zipper is warning pet owners who can no longer care for their pets to think twice before returning them to shelters or adoption agencies.

“If you hit a wall with an animal where you really don’t think you can’t care for a dog responsibly, I think the last thing you should do is go to the shelter immediately,” he said. -he declares.

“Let people know that you can’t take care of your dog, say your dog is for adoption, and let people come to you and meet the dog and make sure you choose someone who can take care of you. this dog responsibly and give this dog as much love as you can.

Espériquette wants potential adopters to know that animals returned to Wags and Walks are not “damaged goods”.

“They were just a problem for someone for some reason and they ended up at the shelter for something that wasn’t really their fault and that they didn’t really deserve,” she said.


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