NC Humane Society sees increase in pet surrenders as pandemic wears on

CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. (WJZY) – It was seen as among the most selfless things at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic: Many local shelters saw a rise in pet fosters and adoptions while more people stayed at home.

But now, a lot of those pets are now winding up back in shelters or where they were once found.

FOX 46 visited the Humane Society of Cabarrus County, they have seen four times the amount of returns that they’d normally see and that’s just this week.

You can sense the fear, the apprehension and the confusion, and the potential for so much love at the Humane Society. Some of the dogs that initially had their forever homes at the start of the pandemic are now back with shelter.

“Oh, it’s devastating for us.  We’ve shed a lot of tears during this COVID epidemic,” said Judy Sims with Humane Society of Concord and Greater Cabarrus County.

Sims is the Executive Director and says COVID-19 is to blame for a lot of these pets being back here, but not in the way some may think.

Sims says their foster program led to many adoptions at the beginning of the pandemic, but as everything has settled, some have become overwhelmed. For many others, their situations have changed.

“After they started to go back to work, some of these dogs started coming back,” Sims said.

Sims says Cabarrus County has seen quadruple the returns. It’s not just a problem here.

“Most people don’t take into account what it takes to have one,” an employee with the Guilford County Animal Shelter said.

In Guilford County, in the Triad Animal Services there is trying to stop the tide before it starts with programs to help feed animals.

“We’re averaging anywhere from 300 to 350 pounds of food that we’re giving out to the community,” said another.

But by the time they reach the Humane Society, this is not the outcome anyone or anything, wanted.

“There’s nothing you can do but hold them while they cry,” Sims said.

Sims says more are due to be surrendered this weekend and for anyone considering a pet.

“Think about the future, don’t think about what you want right this minute,” said Sims.

Sims says the average stay here for dogs right now is two weeks. She also says every Humane Society is always on the hunt for foster homes for pets, which, more often than not, gets them adopted quicker.

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