As the world slowly reopens, Dallas Animal Services reports “pandemic pets” are staying with their new families
When the pandemic first forced Dallas Animal Services (DAS) to drastically alter its operations more than a year ago, DAS joined shelters across the country in issuing desperate pleas for adopters and fosters. In response, DAS received a huge outpouring of support from residents, and both foster and adoption numbers skyrocketed. Searching for companionship and connection over the last year, many adults who felt they were too busy for a pet pre-pandemic decided to open their hearts and homes to a four-legged friend.
Now, many shelters, including DAS, are facing a difficult summer with ongoing animal capacity challenges. The fact that this rise in capacity comes alongside the reopening of many businesses has led many to ask if there is a correlation between pet owners returning to work and our shelter’s increased pet intake. The answer, at least here in Dallas, is no.
“I can’t speak for other shelters, but at DAS we are not seeing an increase in adoption returns,” Interim Director of DAS MeLissa Webber said. “In fact, we’ve seen our adoption return rate go down this year compared to last year. The rate of pets adopted during the pandemic that were returned to DAS since the world began opening back up is less than 1%. What is driving our higher capacity numbers is the same thing we see every spring and summer: an increase in lost dogs and orphaned neonatal kittens.”
Owner surrenders for dogs and cats have decreased by 40% this fiscal year to date in comparison to last fiscal year. But due to the seasonal increase in intake of both lost dogs and kittens, DAS is once again pleading for adopters and fosters.
“Our team is very proud that our euthanasia rate for dogs and cats is down 20% so far this fiscal year compared to last fiscal year,” said Webber. “But we need our community’s ongoing help if we are going to continue this trend. As our animal intakes rise, we also need our adoption and foster numbers to rise, or we end up having to make very difficult decisions.”
All pets are free to adopt and are spayed/neutered, current on vaccinations, and microchipped.
DAS is working to provide the entire community with access to pet adoptions by offering three ways to adopt a new family member:
• In-person at the main shelter at 1818 North Westmoreland Road (visit www.BeDallas90.org for hours)
• Online at www.BeDallas90.org
• In-person at the North Dallas PetSmart Everyday Adoption Center (16821 North Coit Road) on select days (visit www.BeDallas90.org for days and hours)
If you are facing challenges in caring for your current pets, our Pet Support Hotline (call 3-1-1 to access) with partners Spay Neuter Network and Dallas Pets Alive and online resources (www.BeDallas90.org) may be able to provide resources to help you keep your pet in your home.