Animal Shelters are Overwhelmed by Abandoned Dogs. Here’s Why.

Man’s best friend is increasingly being abandoned on the street, often by people facing financial hardships who can no longer afford to feed or house them.

“Animal shelters generally reflect what is happening to people in a community and where there is food insecurity,” Stephanie Filer, executive director of Shelter Animals Count, told CBS MoneyWatch. 

As 2023 came to close, there were 250,000 more animals in the shelter system than the year before, said Filer, whose group compiles data from nearly 7,000 shelters nationwide. 

“Through November, our numbers are showing a continued and persistent gap in the numbers entering our shelters and leaving,” said Filer, who also noted an increase in puppies and purebred dogs being brought to shelters.

“In the past year, San Diego Humane Society, which takes in over 30,000 companion animals each year, observed a 20% increase in lost pets not retrieved by their owners,” Dr. Gary Weitzman, president and CEO of San Diego Humane Society, said in an emailed statement. “Families relinquish their pets for various, often heartbreaking reasons, including escalating costs of care, insufficient housing options for pet owners and limited access to veterinary care. We also believe a pause in spay/neuter surgery accessibility during the pandemic has also increased the number of animals in our shelters.”

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