Euthanasia rates in Detroit's public animal shelter reach 5-year high
Detroit's public animal shelter expects the number of pets it takes in this year to skyrocket well above pre-pandemic levels.
Driving the news: The Detroit Animal Care and Control (DACC)'s shelter in the North End projects 6,463 dog and cat intakes this year — 1,000 more than last year and nearly 2,000 more than in 2019.
- Euthanasia rates are up to 31.9% year to date, with a projected total of 2,061 this year. That's a jump from 22.5% in 2022 and 23.7% back in 2019, per DACC.
The big picture: Animal intakes at both public and private shelters across the country are expected to reach a three-year high this year, and adoptions or returns to owners are not keeping pace, according to the Shelter Animals Count database (SAC).
- Housing instability fueled by the end of pandemic eviction moratoriums and increasing rents are driving a lot of pet relinquishment, Axios' Carrie Shepherd reports.
Zoom in: The Detroit shelter's capacity is 84 dogs and 25 cats. But as of late July, it had 171 dogs and 33 cats.
- "Sometimes we have to do sharing of cages. It's not easy," Crystal Perkins, director of the General Services Department overseeing DACC, tells Axios. "And we do euthanasias when we have to. We try to start with animals that are diseased or sick, or have behavioral problems."
Context: Euthanasia rates were low there in 2020 and 2021 — around 10% — as people sought companionship en masse.
- The shelter being over capacity isn't new, but it's "picked up tremendously since we opened the world back up," Perkins says.
- The city's numbers also reflect the fact that the shelter shifted from "unlimited intake" to "managed" intake in 2020, then changed intake back to unrestricted at the end of 2021.
What's next: The city is building a new animal control shelter and office with a capacity of 211 animals to be completed at the end of the year.
- Yet, "we're going to be at capacity moving in if we keep moving at this rate," Perkins says.
What they're saying: Shelter populations are up after the height of the pandemic, but there's still "significantly less animals" than shelters used to see 10-15 years ago, Matt Pepper, CEO of Michigan Humane, tells Axios.
- Michigan Humane's biggest problem right now is that animals are remaining at the shelter longer, he says.
Of note: Michigan Humane and others across the industry are focusing more on keeping animals in their homes with social service-type activities like free food, temporary foster care and veterinary care, Pepper says.
Worthy of your time: Friends of Detroit Animal Care and Control is hosting informational "Pet Ownership 101" talks at two Detroit public libraries this fall.
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