TOWN OF ULSTER, NY – As the price of housing, gas, and groceries increases, another symptom of the financial stress on the community is the number of people who feel they have no other choice but to surrender their pets.
“We are way over capacity on dogs right now,” Gina Carbonari, executive director of the Ulster County SPCA, said this week. “We’ve had a lot of local surrenders coming in.” The increase in surrenders is coupled with a slowdown in the number of people who are willing to adopt, or even foster, a pet, she said.
Currently, the shelter on Wiedy Road has 44 adoptable dogs waiting for their new homes, Carbonari said. She said, though, the shelter only has 25 kennels, so there are dogs being housed in offices, the facility’s training room, and some in foster care.
“And we still have people calling every day needing to surrender animals,” Carbonari said. “And the bigger issue is that most of these folks are losing their housing. They have economic issues. Some of them are being forced to change housing and now they’re not allowed to have their pets in their new housing anymore.
“So, we really need not just affordable housing in this area, but we also need affordable, pet-friendly housing in this area,” Carbonari said. “Because it is putting people in very difficult positions of having to make that choice. And we have folks every day who call us crying. They’re upset that they have to leave their family member with us but they don’t have a choice because they need to have a roof over their head. ”
Carbonari said the problem is exacerbated for larger dogs. She said even when landlords will accept pets in their rental housing they sometimes put a weight limit on the size of the animal. Carbonari said there are very few dogs, even the smaller breeds, who fit into a class of 25-pounds or less. And the size of the animal has no bearing on their temperament, she said.
“It’s a community problem and it’s a symptom of what’s happening in our community,” Carbonari said of the pets being surrendered. She said when people’s finances are strained they consider giving up their pets because they believe the pet would be better with someone else.
Ulster County Canines, a dog shelter on Route 32 in Saugerties, posted its own plea on Facebook asking people to consider adopting.
“Shelters all over the country are in crisis,” the shelter’s post on Friday stated. “Adoptions have slowed down everywhere. This means that shelters are at max capacity, full or over full, and some shelters are forced to euthanize to make space for incoming dogs which has not slowed. Other shelters like UCC just can’t take any more dogs until adoptions pick up. ”
The community can help by adopting a pet or agreeing to foster one, Carbonari said. She said the public can also help by volunteering at the shelter to help make sure the dogs in its care get out for walks.
Carbonari said the goal is to get pets into homes or keep them in their homes. She said the shelter should be a safe haven when a pet has absolutely nowhere else to go. If a pet can stay in its home while someone else or the shelter tries to find it a new home, that is best, Carbonari said.
The Ulster County SPCA also has programs designed to help people avoid having to surrender their pets, Carbonari said. She said that includes the pet food pantry.
The SPCA also streamlined its adoption process to make it easier for people to adopt, and took down arbitrary barriers to adoption such as a home needing a fenced yard, Carbonari said. She said the adoption process is about making sure the pet’s personality and temperament match with the family looking to take it into their home. The goal is to have every pet in its own home where it can be loved by its own family, Carbonari said.
People interested in adopting can visit the shelter’s website and click on the photo of the pet to learn more about it and to fill out an application, Carbonari said. She said an adoption counselor would call them back within a day to discuss the next steps.
Carbonari also said the shelter has hosted several events already this year where adoption prices have been reduced or waived in an attempt to increase the chances of pets finding new homes.
“This is a national problem right now,” Carbonari said. “We used to bring up transports from other shelters that are forced to euthanize for space. We used to do that on a monthly basis. We haven’t done that in the past year because we’ve had so many local surrenders that we’ve taken in. And so many strays that have come in. … ”
The Ulster County SPCA does not euthanize animals due to space constraints, Carbonari said. She said, though, that when the shelter is full, it cannot help anyone else.
“So not only can we not help the folks in our own community but we also can’t help those animals that are in other communities that are forced to euthanize for space,” Carbonari said. “So those animals end up being killed because there just isn’t enough space and there’s nowhere to move them to because now we’re all filled with space too.”
Ulster County Canines said in its post that shelters are low on resources and space, and that shelter workers are beside themselves with despair knowing that many dogs will lose their lives if something does not change.
“When one dog gets adopted there are 100+ dogs waiting to take their place of safety and wait for a loving home of their own,” Ulster County Canines wrote. The shelter added that it offers discounted after-adoption support for each dog adopted from Ulster County Canines, which includes private boarding, daycare, and a low-cost wellness and vaccine clinic along with lower-cost heartworm treatments to help keep dogs in their homes. .
“There are many reasons why people may not be adopting right now,” Ulster County Canines wrote. “People are traveling for the first time in three years, we are facing economic hardship as a country, and private vet care costs have obscenely skyrocketed, making it hard for people to afford proper care for the dogs they already own and impossible to care for. another. What I don’t think is that every home in America has one dog or more… I don’t think all the homes are full. ”
For more information on the Ulster County SPCA, or to find an adoptable dog, visit www.ucspca.org.
To reach Ulster County Canines and its adoptable dogs, visit https://ulstercountycanines.com.