Are US Animal Shelters Seeing Pet Returns After ‘Pandemic Puppy Boom’?

In the spring of 2021, as more Americans were vaccinated against COVID-19 and returned to face-to-face gatherings, reports highlighted an alleged downside to the recent phase of the pandemic: people who adopted pets to keep them company during the lockdown reportedly regretted it your decision .

“We were scared when this started,” a Florida animal rescuer told the Tampa Bay Times.

Other news outlets also tried to alert the supposed trend. A BBC video released on May 5 said emergency services in the US were “struggling to keep up with the influx of revenue” as the schedules of more people were busy again before the pandemic. This story pack was titled “What Happened After the Pandemic Puppy Boom” and included an animal rescue experience in Virginia.

Citing the prospect of that rescue, as well as a Colorado animal rescue leader who also reported above-average returns when COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, a May 12 USA TODAY story also made a headline claim:

“Everyone wanted a puppy when the pandemic started, but now these dogs are being brought back.”

Ultimately, however, the claim was significantly overstated.

It was quite possible that individual animal rescue organizations in the US documented an “increase in returned pets” in the spring of 2021 – and at the same time it was plausible that some or the majority of these returns were animals that had been adopted during the US pandemic – for now At the time, there was no evidence of a national problem.

“Despite alarming headlines associated with regional reports of an increase in owner handovers, this trend is currently undetectable at the national level as many organizations see only a return to pre-pandemic operations and admission,” according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) said in a statement May 26.

In other words, the New York City-based nonprofit noted that rescue groups were seeing a shift in return levels – not because new pet owners had a change of heart – but because COVID-19 restrictions had previously hampered rescue operations. For example, social distancing rules may have stopped volunteer groups from searching neighborhoods for stray dogs or limited animal shelters’ opening hours.

According to monthly reports from PetPoint, a website that summarizes data from more than 1,100 animal welfare organizations in the United States, while there was an increase in the number of pets that were weaned in the spring of 2021, the rate appeared to be returning to prepandemic levels according to the New York Times.

“We’ll be watching this closely over the next several months,” Michael San Filippo, a spokesman for the American Veterinary Medical Association, told the news agency. “We have certainly been aware of this possibility since we heard of more people bringing pets home during the pandemic. So far, however, we have seen no evidence of a corresponding increase in surrenders. “

Additionally, the ASPCA’s statement highlighted the results of a survey of around 5,000 households that found that 90% of dog owners and 85% of cat owners who adopted in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak still keep the pets had in their homes.

The organization’s CEO Matt Bershadker said in another article on their website:

“[No] – A large number of people do not return the pets they care for and adopt. Instead, they benefit from the compassionate measures they took during the darkest moments of the pandemic and joyfully double those commitments. “

Overall, we rate this claim as “false”.

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