Animal shelters overflowing amid rise in neglect cases, surrenders
FREEPORT, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Across the country, animal shelters are packed. That is the case for many shelters here in northwest Florida.
Staff at Alaqua Animal Refuge in Freeport say they are dealing with the same issues.
“It’s kind of an epidemic that’s going on right now,” Ashley Englehart, behavior and enrichment manager at Alaqua Animal Refuge, said. “We have some days where we receive close to 150 surrender pet notifications of people wanting us to take their animals for them.”
Recently, Alaqua worked with multiple rescue groups in the area to help save dozens of puppies.
“We got a call to assist with Lucky Puppy Rescue because they got a call for a home that had between 30 and 35 puppies, and 5 mama dogs,” Englehart said. “We wound up being able to step in and help. Not only with Lucky Puppy but also the new Crestview animal shelter took a few puppies from the group, and also Partners for Pets in Mariana did as well.”
Animal shelter and rescue teams say cases like these are not uncommon and have actually increased in recent years.
“It’s definitely been worse the past few years,” Englehart said. “Some people are kind of blaming COVID, now everyone’s back to work and they don’t have time for the dogs. We’ve seen a lot of people that got all these pets without really knowing what they were getting into.”
Shelter staff say the best solution is to always spay and neuter your pets. However, even that can be a challenge for many.
“That’s the biggest one we hear is ‘well, I didn’t get my pets spayed or neutered because I couldn’t afford it’,” Englehart said. “There are very few low-cost options, and the ones that do exist are often booked out months in advance.”
If you want to play a part in helping local shelters, Englehart said it is easy to do so.
“Donate, foster, adopt,” Englehart said. “There’s all kinds of things you can do. You can always call and ask [your local shelter] and ask how you can help, or what do they need, and they’d be happy to tell you.”
If you are unable to donate, volunteer, or foster, shelter staff say sometimes even liking and sharing posts from your local shelter’s social media can go a long way.
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