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Getting Answers: shortage of shelter pets

Looking for your next puppy, kitten, or purebred? You may find that your local shelter may not have exactly what you are hoping to find.
Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 6:10 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 28, 2022 at 9:09 AM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Looking for your next puppy, kitten, or purebred? You may find that your local shelter may not have exactly what you are hoping to find.

“Nowadays, there are not an overpopulation of animals that are flooding into animal shelters like they did years go…The number of animals reproducing as a whole is decreasing. What we are finding are that animals that are coming to us are resource intensive,” said Lori Swanson, executive director at the Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center.

Swanson told Western Mass News that the shelter is working with more animals that have behavior and medical needs. Swanson said the pandemic changed how pets socialized.

“They lived in a bubble with their family and their pets, so what we are seeing now is more dogs that are not socialized,” Swanson added.

According to Swanson, those pets were not going to training classes and learning appropriate skills.

Why is there a shortage of available animals? This is not an issue directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic and rather one predicted years ago. Lee Chambers with the Dakin Humane Society said that’s due to the northeast leading the way in the spaying and neutering of pets over the last decade.

“The reality is that young, healthy pets that used to come in abundance are not happening anymore,” Chambers said.

At Dakin, Chambers said most of the dogs now available for adoption include pit bull mixes and larger dogs instead of smaller pure breed dogs. In 2021, Dakin took in 2,508 pets, down more than half, compared to 2019 when it received 5,555 animals. With fewer pets came a reduction in adoptions with 1,666 people adopting pets in 2021, down from 3,811 people in 2019.

Because fewer animals are reproducing, this reduces the availability of kittens and puppies into the community, Swanson told Western Mass News.

What can you do if you are interested in adopting a younger animal? Swanson said it all starts with conducting your research in learning about the particular pet you want to adopt, including its vaccination history and learning about the father and mother of the particular pet to understand its genetics.

If you are looking for a particular breed, Chambers explained, “If they are looking for a specific type of dog, it is fine to go to a breeder.” Swanson said there are reputable breeders, but it is critical for potential owners to do their homework in researching them, but Chambers said there are still animals available at the Dakin Humane Society that may warm your heart.

“The shelter experience is to come here and rescue a pet and the people that do that tend to have more flexibility in who they are looking for,” Chambers noted.

At both TJO and Dakin, visits with animals for adoption are made by appointment only.

You can CLICK HERE to learn about animals up for adoption at Dakin and CLICK HERE for animals up for adoption at TJO.