Animal shelters in crisis as owners return pets in record numbers
BATON ROUGE - The adorable puppies and kittens up front and on display at Companion Animal Alliance don't reflect what's going on behind the scenes.
"Shelters are kind of at a crisis point throughout the country. We're obviously no different," CAA director Jill Sergio said.
At the parish-run shelter, they're on pace to intake 11,000 pets this year. Last year they had 9,500.
"We've seen this year about a 40 percent increase in owner-surrenders than we have in years past. We're also seeing more stray animals, a lot of which we believe are owned."
The strays and surrendered dogs have to stay in kennels lined up against the wall in a separate room. On Tuesday, they had 40 come in.
"Now, we are having to make euthanasia decisions. We are doing it on space, which is something we haven't had to do in years."
In the past, pets on the euthanasia list were saved by shelters like CAAWS, but a related shortage is preventing that as well.
"If we could get some of these puppies in foster homes then we would have room to go and pull dogs who may be on the euthanasia list," Libby Haydel with CAAWS said.
Shelters say too many animals and not enough adoptions or fosters are directly linked to one thing.
"Costs are going up around the country. Our people are struggling. I think if you're having to choose between feeding your pet and feeding your children, you choose your children," Sergio said.
Likewise, the rescue organizations that usually help pet owners get food—like Rescue Alliance in Gonzales—are inundated with applications.
"We're bringing in between 250-400 applications every week. With the cost of gas rising and everything, the demand has over quadrupled," director Jonathan Henriques said.