Aug 4, 2021 - News
What happened to Iowa's pandemic pets, by the numbers
Two photos of a 1-year-old pit bull named Fergus up for adoption in Iowa.
Meet Fergus! He's a 1-year-old pit bull up for adoption at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. Photos courtesy of the ARL

Don't worry — people aren't rushing to return their pandemic pups to Iowa's shelters, despite alarmist headlines earlier this year.

  • In fact, the opposite issue is happening. There aren't enough animals for everyone who wants one.

State of play: Fewer pet owners have surrendered their animals to the Animal Rescue League of Iowa this year than in 2020 and 2019, according to the state's largest nonprofit shelter.

  • And while this year's adoption rate is 10% lower in comparison to 2020, there are also fewer pets to adopt following our pandemic pet craze.
Data: Animal Rescue League of Iowa; Chart: Axios Visuals

Between the lines: It's good news people aren't returning pets willy-nilly, but there are concerns owners will be forced to give them up, considering many Americans are at risk of eviction, said Stephanie Filer of ARL-Iowa.

What they're saying: Lack of affordable, pet-friendly housing is one of the major reasons why people give up their animals, Filer said.

  • These days, most people consider pets "a part of the family," and want to stay with them, she added.
Data: Animal Rescue League of Iowa; Chart: Axios Visuals

A real-life example: A local owner returned his puppy to the ARL while "bawling" because he ended up homeless and couldn't find a place that would accept a pit bull mix, Filer told us. He brought everything the dog loved, including even his own allergy meds, to give to the shelter.

  • "That is how the pandemic is impacting people," Filer said.

How you can help: Donate to the ARL's "Paw It Forward" fund that helps keep pets and owners together, or offer up temporary care by becoming a crisis foster home.

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