Housing issues lead to mass pet surrenders

Housing issues lead to mass pet surrenders


On Friday, several Central Florida animal shelters announced in unison that their facilities had reached, or were very near, capacity.


What You Need To Know

  • Several Central Florida animal shelters announced Friday that they were at, or near, capacity
  • Housing issues and rental increases were among the most common reasons given by pet owners surrendering their animals
  • Workers at some shelters say they have had to turn people away because they didn’t have the room to take their pet

Shelter workers say “housing issues” and ensuing rent increases are among the most common explanations they’ve heard recently from people surrendering their pets.

“It’s frustrating because you want to help these families hold on to their dogs, but often times it’s just not possible to do so,” said Endless Pawsibilities Animal Rescue founder Miriam Aterhortua.

In Orange County, officials say almost 400 animals are in the Orange County Animal Services shelter and about 200 more are in foster care. In Seminole County, there are about 200 animals in the Seminole County Animal Services shelter and more than 100 in foster care. Meanwhile, officials at the shelters in Osceola and Volusia counties report they have gone beyond capacity this Summer.

Rosina McVicker, who fosters pets and sits on the Orange County Animal Services advisory board, said she’s never seen anything like this.

“We are seeing probably the worst year ever as far as overcrowding in the shelter,” she said. “This is the first year that I recall in many where multiple shelters have closed intakes or limited intakes — they don’t take owner surrenders or take healthy free roaming dogs.”

Both McVicker and Aterhortua said they also have had to turn away pets because their shelters have reached capacity themselves.

“It’s really devastating, because we would like to save them all,” Aterhortua said. “The lack of fosters, the lack of space, the insane amount of animals needing space. It’s devastating having to say no.”

Orange County Animal Services report that on a daily basis, about 25 animals are brought in as either strays or surrenders. Several animal shelters report either waiving or reducing adoption fees in the hopes more people would adopt.

Aterhortua said aside from donations, what shelters need most is more animal foster parents help with the issue.

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