Raining cats and dogs

Post-COVID surrenders increase need for pet adoptions

Back in December, the Burlington County Animal Shelter offered the Christmas gift of waived adoption fees for adult dogs and cats. The result meant new homes for some 132 cats and 32 dogs.

In April, the shelter partnered with the national organization Best Friends Animal Society to find individuals and families willing to open their homes to vulnerable animals.

- Advertisement -

The annual Woofstock event sponsored by the Voorhees Animal Orphanage in September draws people together to support the organization.

Such events demonstrate the great need for animal adoptions since COVID, when so many families took in animals they couldn’t care for long-term.

“The Burlington County Animal Shelter staff and volunteers do an outstanding job caring for the dogs, cats and other animals at the shelter, but what these pets need most is a loving home of their own,” said Commissioner Dan O’Connell, liaison to the animal shelter.

Best Friends runs lifesaving programs across the country, as well as the nation’s largest no kill animal sanctuary. It collaborates with a network of more than 4,200 animal welfare and shelter partners and community members, including the county facility.

“Burlington County Animal Shelter is committed to increasing their lifesaving programs, but it takes a community to save all of its homeless pets,” said Audrey Lodato, East region director of Best Friends.

The shelter is the only one operating in the state’s largest county and accepts surrendered pets and strays from all 40 of its municipalities. Last year, it adopted out more than 450 dogs and 1,180 cats.

While there was a boom in pet adoptions during COVID, owners of late are finding it hard financially to keep them because of inflation and other issues, the Washington Post reported in December.

More than 23 million U.S. households — nearly one in five nationwide — adopted a pet during COVID, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

But 35% of pet owners acknowledged in September their concern about the costs of keeping pets in the current economy, according to data from the American Pet Products Association trade group, reported the Post.

In February, when the annual Consumer Price Index declined to 6%, the pet products and services index rose to 10.9%, while veterinary services jumped nearly 2 percentage points to 10.3% and pet food increased to 15.2%, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data reported by CNN.

The price hikes have been attributed to rising input and ingredient costs, according to Andrea Binder, vice president of North America Pet Retail at NielsenIQ, which tracks consumer buying behavior.

Those numbers make it even more crucial that individuals and families consider contacting a local agency or shelter about taking in an animal, while understanding what adoption involves.

“Do your homework,” suggests Ericka Haines at the Burlington County Animal Shelter. “Think about what a typical week in your life looks like, and research what animal or breed works best for you and your family. Many people do not realize the amount of time and training involved with owning a new pet.”

For information on the Burlington County shelter and Best Friends, visit bestfriends.org/burlington-county or email fosterburlingtonco@bestfriends.org for more information. Contact the Voorhees Animal Orphanage at www.vaonj.org.

- Advertisment -