Aug 26, 2021 - News
Pandemic pets are crowding Colorado animal shelters
A photo of a Setter dog leaping up behind a cage
Photo: Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Animal shelters are offering discounted dog and cat adoptions over the next several weeks to combat overcrowding caused by the pandemic.

  • The limited-time deals are part of an annual nationwide "Clear the Shelters" event that draws participation from more than 1,000 organizations, including about a dozen in Colorado this year.

Why it matters: The timing of the campaign coincides with a wave of incoming pandemic pets that local shelters have long been bracing for, multiple shelters in the Denver metro area tell Axios.

  • Shelters in Colorado and across the country saw a surge in adoptions after COVID-19 hit — and for months, they've warned of a spike in unwanted animals as people return to post-pandemic life.

State of play: The Humane Society of Weld County has reached capacity three times this summer, forcing them to rely on foster homes and hold more adoption events.

  • The Denver Dumb Friends League shelter is reporting an uptick in relinquishments in the last few months, too, which is offsetting adoption rates that mirror pre-pandemic years, spokesperson Adrianne Glazer tells Axios.
  • More returned pets are also pouring into Denver Animal Shelter compared with 2019, spokesperson Tammy Vigil says.

The intrigue: It's not just unwanted pandemic pets fueling the surge.

What they're saying: "Because of the pandemic, many spay and neuter efforts were put on pause," which has led to more strays, puppies and kittens, says Sarah Morrill, spokesperson for the Humane Society of Weld County.

  • "This kitten season was especially tough. At one point we had 100 kittens in foster homes," she told Axios.

Context: As we previously reported, high adoption demand during the pandemic has made it more difficult for pet owners in Denver to secure appointments with veterinarians.

  • Further straining resources is the fact that many pet owners have been booking the routine checkups they put off during the height of the pandemic.

Be smart: Discounts vary from one shelter to another, so visit each one's website for details.

  • Denver Animal Shelter is offering name-your-price adoption fees for adult dogs and cats through Aug. 30.
  • All adoptions at Denver Dumb Friends League will be free for seniors and veterans and 50% off for all others through Sept. 19.
  • The Humane Society of Weld County is reducing all adoption fees by 50% until Sept. 11.
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