Animal shelters face overcrowding - The Lookout - LCC's Independent Student Newspaper Since 1959
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Animal shelters face overcrowding

Shelter clip art

Courtesy graphic

Abby Cowels

By Abby Cowels
Freelance Reporter

The COVID-19 pandemic halted lives for most of 2020, and forced many to abandon what they knew as “normal.”

Within the U.S., many were in a better place financially because of unemployment benefits and stimulus checks, though feelings of anxiety and depression were amplified because of prolonged isolation.

In a place of emotional turmoil, nearly 23 million American households looked to animals for comfort and companionship. For shelters across the U.S., this was a very exciting time and some had even started to run out of animals to adopt. Regrettably, shelters are now experiencing the very opposite.

Jodie Ellison, director of the animal shelter in Royal Oak, spoke about the issue in November of 2022.

“Mid-summer of this year is when our overpopulation problem due to high intake plus increased length of stay began,” Ellison said. “At one point over the past month, we hit 200 percent capacity for dogs, with three-quarters of those being dogs in the shelter.”

The rapid influx of pets being brought to shelter is primarily influenced by the average 17.21 percent inflation increase since 2020, putting millions of households at risk financially. Families and individuals are unable to care for the pets they have adopted with increasing prices on food and vet services.

The Michigan Humane Society is providing support to those in need of pet care.

“We're seeing a lot of people that are having financial issues and don't have the means to take care of their animals, so we're helping them do that," said Dr. Lara Silveri, facility medical director for the Michigan Humane Society. “I think everybody deserves a pet."

The MHS is providing programs like a free pet food bank, discounted veterinary care, and services such as low-cost sterilization. Spaying, neutering and funded projects like “trap & release” also offer an opportunity to create a higher quality of life by controlling the population and having more available resources for current animals in need.

Former family pets are not the only ones overflowing the shelters. Stray cats and dogs are brought into shelters daily for housing and medical care. They are commonly overlooked for being elderly or emotionally high-maintenance.

“Everybody needs a second chance, and these cats and dogs are out here on the streets,” Silveri said.

The individuals working with these rescues are passionate about helping those less fortunate to live a quality life, and in doing so are making a constructive impact on millions of pets’ lives.

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