We’ve seen the stories – shelters all across the country are full, close to or beyond capacity. And we have the data to back that up. Recent reports from Shelter Animals Count (SAC) illuminate the challenge that communities across the nation are facing:
Shelters are full right now because there have been more animals entering shelters than leaving them for the past 5 months straight.
“This year alone, we have seen an excess of six percent of animals who remain in shelters, with more animals arriving each day,” reports Stephanie Filer, SAC’s Executive Director. “This, along with staffing and volunteer shortages, decreased funding, and many other challenges that shelters face each summer, have contributed to too many animals at the majority of shelters across the country.”
Historically, tight shelter populations are often alleviated by transport, but the number of cats and dogs leaving shelters through transfers has been decreasing. According to SAC, in the first half of this year, the rate of dog transfers decreased from nearly eighteen percent of outcomes last year to fifteen percent this year, while cats had a less substantial decrease from eleven percent to ten percent. Those small shifts may not seem like a lot, but with millions of animals entering shelters each year, even a one percent shift – especially in transport – can have a huge ripple effect, impacting shelters across the country.
In some cases, the transfers themselves are also becoming problematic, according to Bissell Pet Foundation’s Kim Alboum, Director of Shelter Outreach and Policy Development. She has heard numerous complaints recently from shelters receiving animals who have not been housed properly on transport. “Unfortunately, to alleviate shelter overcrowding, groups pack ‘em and stack ‘em, and drive off without an emergency plan for when the vehicle breaks down,” she reports. “In many cases, these animals are traumatized. We must assure the safety and comfort of each individual animal on every single transport. Imagine sitting in your own feces, or a crate far too small for you to move in, for ten to sixteen hours.”
Each year, the team at Bissell Pet Foundation transports thousands of animals across the United States and Canada. “In order to guarantee the safety and well-being of pets either by air or ground transport, shelters and rescues should follow The Associations’ Transport Best Practices,” says Alboum. Please download and share these guidelines with rescue partners, volunteers, or any group involved with moving pets.