Local shelters seeing return of pandemic pets

Many organizations and shelters suggest fostering if you aren't sure about the commitment of adoption.

Posted: Dec 2, 2021 7:10 PM
Updated: Dec 2, 2021 7:12 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Adopting was all the rage when the pandemic first began, but there are some pet owners who've had a change of heart or a change of situation. 

At places like the Greenhill Humane Society, animals are surrendered for a number of reasons and the pandemic has played a role. Megan Brezovar, the Human Education Manager for Greenhill, said it's been a busy year, with more than 3,000 animals helped in 2021. But not all homes are forever. 

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"What we have seen, due to the pandemic, is a lot of dogs being surrendered due to behavior issues," Brezovar said. "Our theory is that these animals were adopted or purchased during the pandemic, but they didn't get that opportunity of socialization and training classes because everything was shut down, people were afraid of going out. So a lot of the dogs under our care right now haven't had the experience of interacting or socializing with other dogs."

This is why Brezovar and volunteers are trained to work with animals who might need some special attention. 

"These wonderful people are out here working on socializing these animals and doing our best to see if we can get them socialized, work on their behavior, and make them more adoptable," Brezovar said. 

And other local animal shelters are always fighting to get their animals into good homes. Wiggly Tails Dog Rescue is another local shelter. Ericka Thessan has been on the board for Wiggly Tails for over a year. She said there was a slight increase in adoptions at the beginning of the pandemic. And she said some of the reasons they've seen for surrender are the same as Greenhill.

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"We have had some local owners where someone had a puppy; now they're going back to the office and the dogs just haven't had a lot of training or socialization," Thessan said. 

Ruth Bern, who's a part of the adoption team at the Cat Rescue and Adoption Network, said they've also seen an influx in felines. 

"Last year we saw a huge intake in people needing to surrender cats, or pregnant cats giving birth because the spay and neuter clinics were closed," Bern said. "So we broke all of our records on how many cats we helped last year. It was in the 800s but usually we're in the 600 range."

There is a lot that can go into caring for an animal, such as making sure they're comfortable while they make the transition from a temporary home to a forever home. 

Bern and Thessan both said fostering an animal is the way to go if you aren't sure about adoption. 

"If they can't commit to a lifelong commitment, but they still want to interact with cats, we say, 'Well why don't you foster?' We have such a huge need for fosters," said Bern. 

Thessan, who has fostered dogs for three years with Wiggly Tails, has ended up adopting some of the furry friends she's fostered. 

"It's neat to get them to our houses and to be able to get them healthier and sort of watch their personalities come out, so it's pretty fun," said Thessan. 

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