By Emilee Kownacki
SAN MARCOS–After a splurge of pet adoptions took place over the recent quarantine, many of these newly-homed animals are being returned to shelters, causing an overflow of pets and a need for new loving families to take in these furry friends.
Those who tried to fill the void with canine companions came to realize that as soon as life started up again, they were no longer capable of taking care of their new family member, whether it be financially or physically. According to Fortune, the amount of pets being returned to shelters has almost doubled since the stay-at-home order was lifted in the United States. This increase has overwhelmed local animal shelters and led to numerous efforts to try to get these animals to new homes. Organizations like Austin Pets Alive! have even set up free adoption days with all fees and vaccinations included, although they report pets aren’t being chosen again as easily as they were during quarantine.
College Station resident Hailey Dieringer is one of the many unlucky people who were unable to care for their pet after quarantine ended. She adopted a puppy in April of 2020 and had to give him back to the shelter just a few months later.
“Of course I would’ve never adopted him if I knew how hard it would be to take care of him,” Said Dieringer. “I loved him so much but when I had to go back to work, it wasn’t fair of me to keep him cooped up in a kennel all day. It broke my heart to have to give him back, but he needed a better home than I could give him.”
In an even more unfortunate response to the inability to care for ‘quarantine pets’, many have just abandoned their animals in the streets. According to a Salon article, animal cruelty investigators have seen a 20% increase in in pet abandonment cases since March of 2020. These pets are being found malnourished, wounded, dehydrated etc.
But not all hope is lost for these four-legged friends.
Many college students in the San Marcos and Austin areas have taken it upon themselves to help in any way they can, providing services to shelters, or even adopting a pet themselves. Students like 23-year-old Haylee Adams are doing everything in their power to re-home these animals.
Adams has volunteered at over 6 different shelters around the area and has adopted 3 of her own pets along the way (2 dogs and a cat).
“I wake up everyday and want to help,” Said Adams. “I can’t even imagine a life where all I saw was a kennel. These pets are struggling every day to be adopted and it hurts me to know that they are going through that process all over again after finally knowing what a home felt like.”
Students around the San Antonio area are eager to help as well. UTSA student Pablo Marroquin also does his fair share in helping local animals in need.
“I’ve seen firsthand what these animals have to go through and I will do anything in my power to get them into a loving home,” Says Marroquin. “My girlfriend and I volunteer at the San Antonio Humane Society and the work is rewarding not only for us, but for the pets.”
Marroquin and his girlfriend Gianna have been helping out at the animal shelter for over a year now. They help in the shelters by taking care of the animals as well as working adoption events and spreading the word about available pets.
“Everything we do is for the animals,” Says Marroquin, “We have a rescued cat at home and love her to pieces. It’s amazing knowing I can possibly help bring that love home to others.”
Currently pets are being surrendered at alarming rates, and shelters like the San Antonio Humane Society are hosting adoption events off site, in shelters and even online.
“The online events are actually super cool,” Says Marroquin. “A lot of people haven’t felt comfortable coming to events in person so it’s a good alternative being able to join a Facebook live and get an opportunity to see the animals. It’s really helped the shelter out recently.”
Currently, shelters are still struggling to keep from overflowing, but the help of these volunteers has brought hope to the foreseeable future.