Digital Exclusive: Some local shelters working at full or near-full capacity

Digital Exclusive

EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Some local animal shelters are operating at full capacity and the COVID-19 pandemic could be to blame.

“I think that a lot of people are facing financial hardships which in result turns to people not being able to properly care for their animals,” Ashley Wolo, Executive Director of Griffin Pond Animal Shelter, said.

“Also people adopted animals during COVID and once they returned to work realized that they now have a dog with seperation anxiety because they were home so much and they never did the training while they were there,” Emma Ripka, senior volunteer at Blue Chip Farm Animal Refuge said.

Volunteers say some people have dumped their animals off at the shelter while others have lied about their animals’ condition or behavior.

“Whether the reason is they called the shelter and the shelter said no or the shelter was full, people are dumping their animals or bringing them to shelters and saying they’re strays and they end up being their actual pets. So we’ve just seen an increase of irresponsible owners to be honest,” Ripka said.

Blue Chip Farm Animal Refuge is limited on large dog space and not taking cats because they have assisted with three hoarding cases. Ripka says Blue Chip Farm even received a ferret that was following people around at Frances Slocum Park. She says dumping animals can traumatize them.

“It can create severe trust issues with new humans. We still have a dog that was dumped up on 8th Street because he has behavioral issues from being abused and dumped so he just has his guard up all the time,” Ripka said.

Wolo says people don’t necessarily realize how much a pet can cost.

“The thing that I think people also realize is that there is a lot of resources out there especially right now with COVID. There’s food banks, there’s organizations out there that are helping with financial responsiblities such as vet bills and things like that,” Wolo said.

But not all shelters are reaching their maximum capacity. In fact it’s the opposite at the SPCA of Luzerne County.

“For 2020 we’ve actually seen our intake drop roughly a third, as well as our adoptions, roughly a third,” Todd Hevner, executive director of the SPCA of Luzerne County said.

He says the drop is partly because people were at home during the pandemic.

“Many folks were in their homes for an extended period of time and thus their animals didn’t have the opporunity to find themselves in a position where they were stray or at large looking for home again,” Hevner said.

Both Griffin Pond Animal Shelter and the SPCA of Luzerne County are still taking in all animals. Shelter staff urge people to contact shelters if they are considering surrendering an animal, as they can point people towards other options.

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