Sep 5, 2023 - News

Animal shelters are feeling the stress from more dogs coming their way

Data: Shelter Animals Count; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Animal shelters across the country are being overwhelmed with stray or owner-surrendered pets — leading to a sharp rise in euthanasia rates.

Why it matters: Animal intakes at both public and private shelters are expected to reach a 3-year high this year, and adoptions or returns to owners are not keeping pace, Axios' Carrie Shepherd writes.

What's happening: More dogs than cats are coming into shelters in many major cities, driven largely by an increase in strays, according to the Shelter Animals Count database.

By the numbers: In the Triangle's two largest counties, the number of animals euthanized has increased for the past three years.

  • In Wake County, 769 animals were euthanized in fiscal year 2021.
  • For fiscal year 2023, 1,308 animals were euthanized, a 70% increase.

The Wake County animal shelter reached capacity earlier this year and has resorted to adoption campaigns, like Clear the Shelter.

  • In early August, the shelter told the public it was going to be forced to euthanize animals because it was running out of room. At one point, it had no open kennels.
  • In response, 138 animals were adopted in one day alone.

In Durham, the number of animals euthanized in 2022 was 1,360, up 9% from 2021.

  • And 2023 is on pace to meet that same number.

Between the lines: Nationally, housing instability fueled by the end of pandemic eviction moratoriums or increasing rents is driving a lot of pet relinquishment.

  • Adoptions have also fallen after seeing an uptick during the pandemic, and the rising cost of pet care has also strained animal owners.

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