Struggling Shelters Now Overwhelmed With Pandemic Givebacks

How Dogs Adopted During the Pandemic Are Being Returned And Why It’s A Problem

This good doggy just wants a stable home:

A lot of dogs were adopted for company and affection when people went into lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic. In fact, Americans adopted over 23 million of them. And why not. There is almost nothing better to combat loneliness than a dog. And that may have been the most wonderful thing to come out of the whole wretched affair aside of course from getting reacquainted with our favorite sitcoms like Parks & Recreation.  

But, unfortunately, as the pandemic is receding in some places and people are going back to work in offices, and having a social life outside of Zoom again, some of those same people are dumping their new furry friends back into the shelters. This is having a knock-on effect as those shelters become overwhelmed, and the entire system is reeling. 

Shelters and rescues all over the country are feeling the pinch, but a story out of Philadelphia is particularly heavy on the feels. One rescue there is reporting that they received ten calls from owners asking if they could surrender their dog to them. Another shelter said that they received a call to see if they could take in a litter of puppies that was just surrendered. 

“I have never ever seen this many people trying to dump their dogs.”

Jessica Mellen-Graaf of Philly Bully Team dog rescue

Among the reasons folks are giving for returning their dogs mostly have to do with not having time for them. This is nothing new of course. Animals that are adopted are sometimes returned. But never has it been in such large volumes. 

It’s frustrating because dogs shouldn’t be treated as plush toys that you can use solely for comfort when you need them only to be tossed in the bin when you are done with them. When you adopt a dog there is an unspoken pact, and obligation much in the same way if you had adopted a child. 

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So if you are thinking of adopting an animal and bringing it into your life, then think about the long term ramifications on your life as well. If you have time now, will you have time in the future? Will you be able to look after the animal? Most of all, ask yourself why you want an animal? 

If the answer is because you need a companion for a little while, then just get a Tamagachi. has a great checklist to see if you have what it takes to accept another life into yours. Also, if you have the room and know of a shelter near you that is overwhelmed. Please consider volunteering your time. Search for a shelter near you here