Pet adoptions high at local shelters during pandemic but surrenders growing, too

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — People in quarantine are fostering and adopting more pets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But many people are also having trouble with the cost of upkeep for their pets.

On Tuesday, workers at Midwest Animal ResQ took in 25 new dogs.

“We are starting to see an uptick in owner requested releases, meaning somebody who’s had a dog, a period of time, sometime’s it’s years on end,” said Erin Morse, Midwest Animal ResQ’s founder and director. “Right now it’s because they have been laid off. We are hearing the same story over and over again.”

It’s something Morse said is becoming increasingly more common as unemployment numbers rise and pet care becomes increasingly difficult for some people.

At Midwest Animal ResQ, they’re also seeing more requests for veterinary care, pet supplies and food from pet owners.

“It’s a heartbreaking situation and a difficult choice when you have to think about feeding your family or feed the pet,” Morse said. “I think I would advise folks who want to open their home to foster animals, which is wonderful, to be honest with themselves about what their commitment looks like and be honest to that shelter, too.”

But people around the metro are still adopting and fostering at high numbers.

At KC Pet Project, a nearly empty shelter is beginning to be the new norm.

“We had nearly 900 people sign up to foster animals, which is just incredible. Cleared out our shelter,” spokeswoman Tori Fugate said. “At one point we only had 30 animals in the building.”

KC Pet Project workers are getting creative and adjusting during the pandemic, even offering virtual adoptions. Eighty-nine dogs were adopted last week.

If you need help caring for your pet, you’re urged to contact a local shelter.

Midwest Animal ResQ is one of many sites offering special resources for families. Call 816-919-1364 for more information and assistance.

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