Coastal Pet Rescue sees increase in owner surrenders during pandemic


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Lisa Scarborough is no stranger to animals. She has loved them since she was a child, prompting her to found a nonprofit Coastal animal rescue in February 2003.

But the job doesn’t come without heartache and frustration.

“We have a lot of losses,” Scarborough said. “But when we have victories, they are incredible victories and you feel so amazed at the transformation that has taken place with this animal.”

Scarborough said in his 20 years of working rescuing animals this has been the toughest year. Coastal Pet Rescue saw an increase in owners’ surrenders, with 98% of their pets coming from people who could no longer care for them.

“We’ve had so many requests for rebates from homeowners every day,” she said. “Our voicemail was filling up every day, not to mention messages via our Facebook page or our e-mail addresses. We just couldn’t keep up with people’s requests to abandon animals to us. “

“We were getting so many litters of kittens,” Scarborough continued. “Unfortunately, many of them were actually taped to boxes and left at our doorstep.”

Animals have been returned for a multitude of reasons: people moving, hoarding pets, or owners dying from COVID-19. The pandemic is also having an impact on the shelter’s efforts.

“It has been extremely upsetting for us,” said Scarborough. “Our resources have been absolutely taxed. We have not been able to do large fundraisers due to the limited number of offsite events. And people are struggling in their personal lives, so we no longer receive the gifts that we used to have. “

Each day, up to 60 animals live onsite at Coastal Pet Rescue. The cat-to-dog ratio is around 50/50, according to Scarborough. But dogs tend to be adopted faster, with an average stay of one to two months.

So far this year, 405 cats and dogs have been adopted at the shelter. Currently, Coastal Pet Rescue is in need of volunteers, foster families and cash donations.

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