People return their pandemic dogs “We kind of saw it coming”

Two dogs running in the sun towards the camera, animal news
Dogs, photo: Alvan Nee on Unsplash

During the coronavirus pandemic, people in Los Angeles looked for company during isolation, and pet adoptions increased in animal shelters. But now that most restrictions are lifted, many dogs are returned because owners don’t have time or money to care for them anymore.

“In the rescue world, we kind of saw it coming,” Chloe Esperiquette, the development coordinator at Wags and Walks adoption center in Los Angeles, told Reuters.

Before the pandemic, Wags and Walks received five to 10 inquiries per month for people who couldn’t care for their dogs anymore.

“That’s now increased to in-the-20s per month, so that’s like doubled since in recent months,” Esperiquette said.

Wags and Walks, like many other animal shelters and adoption agencies, is back to full capacity.

“Every year in the United States, 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized, 670,000 of those are dogs. Here at Wags, we save approximately 1,000 dogs a year. It’s definitely not enough,” Esperiquette said.

Glen Zipper, executive producer of the docuseries “Dogs” and “Cat People” on Netflix, found his calling to save animals after taking a pitbull puppy he rescued on the street to the nearest shelter.

To his horror, he was told the puppy would be euthanized. Zipper adopted the puppy and quit his job as a criminal prosecutor in New Jersey to work at that shelter before becoming a TV producer.

Zipper wants to warn those who can no longer take care of their pets to think twice before returning animals to shelters or adoption agencies.

“If you reach a wall with an animal where you really don’t think you can responsibly care for a dog, I think the last thing you should do is immediately go to the shelter,” Zipper said.

“Let people know that you can’t care for your dog, say that your dog is up for adoption, and let people come to you and meet the dog and make sure that you choose someone who can responsibly care for that dog and give that dog every bit as much love as you can,” he said.

“Working with animals and finding homes for animals and helping save animals’ lives, I feel like I have a purpose and feel like I’m doing something important,” Zipper added about his new calling.

“There’s a lot of work to be done, and we hope that others get involved and decide to support rescue, whether they adopt and not shop, or volunteer, foster, donate, just get involved in any way so that we can continue saving dogs,” Esperiquette said.

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