ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Local humane societies are struggling as many are operating over capacity. While the number of strays and seized dogs is on the rise, adoption rates are trending in the opposite direction.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, approximately 6.3 million pets enter animal shelters in the United States every year. In just the first quarter of 2023, the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society is experiencing a 38% increase in stray and seized dogs.
“This is not even our busiest time of year,” said CEO Ashley Jeffrey Bouck. “We expect to see spikes in strays during the summer months, but there has been no decrease in stray and seized dogs since reducing our contracts. We have 85 dog kennels and today there are 126 dogs in our care with 19 in foster homes. At the same time, adoptions are down by 25%.”
Bouck points to a number of factors contributing to the rise of dogs in the humane society’s care. “For one, there may be pet owners who have to leave their homes and relocate due to the eviction moratorium. When people have to relocate, they might have to move into a place that doesn’t accept pets.”
The state of the economy and inflation have also contributed to owners being separated from their pets. “We have seen some owners who may no longer be able to afford or provide for their pets. Then you have to factor in the shortage of veterinary and low-cost services in the community. There is such high demand but a lot of veterinarians are maxed out.”
Marguerite Pearson of the MHHS added local humane societies are seeing a rise in seized dogs. Most recently on April 20, the Albany Police Department rescued 15 dogs who were found in a residence without necessary food or water in a room filled with feces, urine, and narcotics paraphernalia.
“Law enforcement agencies have been more serious about animal crimes,” said Pearson. “When animals are removed from their abusive or neglectful situations, they are brought to us. As needed, our tremendous behavior and enrichment team works with them to help them overcome emotional scars from their past. The court process for animal cruelty cases can take a long time. We have had dogs under our care for months before we can even take over ownership.”
As per the decline in adoption rates, Bouck says many people adopted pets during the pandemic, resulting in the community becoming very saturated. Furthermore, similar factors that contribute to pet abandonment also contribute to lower adoption rates.
“You have people who may want to adopt a pet but cannot due to their living circumstances,” said Bouck. “Renters may not be allowed to have pets in their homes, or may only be allowed to have certain breeds. Then you have people who may want to adopt but cannot afford it due to the economy.”
“We also have some pets that have specific needs,” adds Pearson. “For example, a dog that was rescued from a cruelty case may need to be the only dog in the household. They may not be able to move in with a young family with children. This makes it harder for us to find a good home that matches the dog’s needs.”
The MHHS is not the only organization who are at or above maximum capacity. “We can definitely say that everyone is full,” said Bouck. “We are constantly getting requests from our partners around the state, saying their kennels are full or overfull and asking if anyone can take a few dogs. We are in critical crisis mode.”
Resources at the humane society have been strained, but Bouck and Pearson praise the local community for their continued support that allows them to keep going. “Our community is so amazing and helps donate and purchase items and supplies that we need for the animals,” said Pearson. “We have a wish list that they can purchase from. We also post on our social media page things that we need. Every little thing helps.”
To encourage adoption, the MHHS is offering reduced fees through April. All dogs one year or older can be adopted for just $50, which includes spay or neuter surgery, vaccinations, microchipping, deworming, flea treatment, and other care.