After the Pandemic Puppy Boom, Shelters Face Overcrowding


In lonely pandemic occasions, housebound San Franciscans coped with keep-at-residence orders and social-distancing by way of pup appreciate: Pretty much anyone adopted a puppy during the early months of the pandemic, and shelters throughout the Bay Region noticed canine adoptions skyrocket in 2020. 

But now that pandemic limits have lifted and organizations have reversed do the job-from-residence guidelines, numerous pandemic puppy parents are discovering it tougher and tougher to expend time with their pooches—so a lot so that some shelters are now looking at extra and extra proprietors surrender their canine. 

“People are likely back again to perform, they are acknowledging they don’t want to go away their dog by yourself and they feel awful,” stated Sherri Franklin, founder and CEO of senior puppy shelter Muttville. “Literally, persons are stating, ‘I don’t have the time, and it genuinely is not proper for my pet to be alone.’” 

It’s not just owner surrenders that are on an upswing adoption costs haven’t developed quick more than enough to meet up with the booming population of strays, pet custody circumstances, proprietor-surrenders or transfers from other Bay Location shelters.

The end result? Complete intakes at regional shelters have shot previous pre-pandemic ranges, and puppies are getting turned absent at stuffed shelters across the region. In SF, nearby adoption centers have experienced to transform new pups absent as adoption rates lag behind. 

East Bay SPCA workforce maintain a stray puppy in advance of an ingestion test in Oakland. | Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Visuals

What’s Driving SF’s Shelter Overpopulation Dilemma? 

Animal rescues, adoption facilities and even SF Animal Treatment and Handle (SF ACC) say that there isn’t one particular one bring about for the current overcrowding crisis. Rather, a lot of pandemic-associated and fiscal difficulties sit at the root of the challenge.

“We have much more surrendered canines now, and that is starting off to come to be extra of a element with economic explanations or persons moving out of the metropolis,” claimed Deb Campbell, a spokesperson at SF ACC. 

It is expensive to own pets, and with climbing inflation, many San Franciscans may perhaps be hesitant to convey a different pet into their lives. Pandemic dog entrepreneurs are also now acquiring it challenging to afford to pay for pet treatment as they return to operate: SF puppy house owners report that pet boarding prices are creeping upwards, and owners are scrambling to find very affordable treatment as need rises and daycares fill.

A single idea that has prevailed in canine handle circles holds that slowing spay and neuter companies through the pandemic led to a growth in the stray puppy population. A 30% decrease in spay-neuter surgeries in 2020 intended that, nationwide, in excess of 3 million dogs missed these significant reproductive measures, major to rampant reproduction and clogged shelters. 

Included to that, a curious boom in “custody” situations—in which people are compelled to give up their animals simply because of an arrest or death, for example—hit SF final year. SF Animal Treatment and Regulate documented an 84% uptick in custody surrenders in 2022.  

Other will cause for worry? Pandemic-relevant proprietor-surrenders, in which individuals give up pups they can no for a longer time treatment for. These kinds of intakes declined at the ACC throughout the pandemic, but rose back again to pre-pandemic amounts final yr. 

Are Adoptions (or Absence Thereof) To Blame? 

The mix of these components pushed local shelter ability around the edge, inundating them with a never-ending stream of dogs—some of which just can’t be adopted rapidly because of lawful possession hurdles. 

“Adoptable puppies are not what are clogging shelter programs,” Campbell stated. “It’s these other categories of puppies that are section of our perform.” Both equally ACC and Muttville say that the inflow in these sorts of surrenders has pushed ACC to beg San Franciscans to delay giving up their puppies, at the very least until eventually kennel ability opens up.

A stray dog stands on a muddy paw right before an consumption exam in Oakland. | Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle through Getty Photos

“Probably the moment a thirty day period, we place out a [social media] submit saying, ‘Please, if you can, hold off surrendering your doggy since our kennels are whole,’” Campbell mentioned. “In the past week, we were being so packed that we experienced to get canine out to extra rescue teams and adoption associates.”

Animal care advocates also say that the blame are not able to be squarely placed on a article-pandemic lull in shelter adoptions. Somewhat, adoptions have remained shockingly constant but haven’t picked up at a brief sufficient price to meet up with the offer, with some pups sitting down in shelters for months at a time. 

“We have not viewed a real drop-off in adoptions, but we have seen—at Muttville anyway—that they’re using a tiny extended,” Franklin mentioned. “But we’re however adopting out the similar volume that we adopted out very last year.” 

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Nevertheless, Animal Care and Regulate noticed a slight dip in its Dwell Release Charge (LRR), or the range of animals that enter and depart the shelter alive. The LRR in the 2021-22 fiscal 12 months sat at 91% for canine, a 4% decline from the past 12 months. 

Huge Canine, Large Problems

San Francisco used to have a major tiny doggy problem at its shelters, with countless numbers of stray chihuahuas roaming the streets and flooding adoption centers—but the pandemic may well have reversed this craze. 

Now, shelters are reporting an uptick in stray significant canine and enhanced difficulty acquiring them adopted.  

Pitbulls ended up the most prevalent primary puppy breed introduced into Animal Care and Regulate in 2022, closely followed by chihuahuas. But among the the 15 most prevalent breeds brought in, big canine comprised a substantially even larger share than their tiny counterparts. 

And it’s not just dogs overcrowding area shelters. SF Animal Care and Handle experienced 30-some bunnies up for adoption in October—more than the shelter could easily accommodate—and a “wonderful guinea pig giveaway” has hit shelters throughout the nation, as the number of abandoned or surrendered smaller animals skyrocketed in 2022. 

As a final result of all this, it really is less complicated to undertake a puppy. | Courtesy Muttville Senior Puppy Rescue

The very good information is that shelters throughout the Bay are doing work tough to make it easier—and free of charge!—to undertake a new pet. SF Animal Treatment and Handle is at present waiving all adoption expenses for puppies and cats over 5 months, and Muttville provides cost-free adoption for senior citizens

Just perhaps don’t identify your dog Luna—there’s hundreds of them roaming all around SF. 


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