A recent UF study found that the percentage of dogs and cats adopted from shelters during the pandemic increased significantly from the previous year.
But Pet Rescue by Judy Owner Judy Sarullo says that although her staff found homes for around 1,000 animals last year, her Sanford shelter is still full.
The WMFE spoke with Sarullo about the challenges animal shelters still face a year after the start of the pandemic and how Floridians in the center can help.
Read the entire interview.
Danielle: Have adoptions or foster families slowed down at all as more people get vaccinated and return to work and school?
Judy: We are seeing that not necessarily dogs from the pandemic, that people are returning their pets because they lose their homes, that finances are tight, that some people are returning to work. And a lot of them, you know, move in with relatives and can’t take their animals. So there has been a real influx of animals for this reason that we welcome.
Danielle: What is the situation ? Yes. What is the situation at the shelter right now? I know Orange County Animal Services, I say they have 300 animals and they have reached capacity. Are you also at full capacity?
Judy: All my spaces are full. But we are still making room in one way or another. For a little more. But yeah, I mean, it’s yeah, it’s just ridiculous how full everyone is. Like I said, people abandon them, they abandon them.
Danielle: May I ask if you have any tips or suggestions for people who are struggling financially?
Judy: I know we are lucky, we will have a lot of donations. All of my dogs stay on one, I spend $ 800 every two weeks because my dogs stay on one food. I cannot change their food every day. So we receive a lot of donations. I have a man who comes on his bike. And they have five dogs, and I’m going to give them two, three big bags of food. So he can feed his dogs. The shelters have extra food. They can go to shelters in their area, there are pantries, and I hope Pet Alliance and the other shelters will do the same.
Danielle: Yes. One year after the start of the pandemic, what are the challenges facing shelters? Whether it’s personnel or financial issues?
Judy: Well I mean sure now it’s hard because you’re trying to do the, you know the right thing. So you can’t let people go. So it’s more difficult, they have to fill out an application. And we’ll review that. And then if there’s a certain animal, then, you know, we’ll go out and meet them. This makes it more difficult for people to see the animals. And some of our events are starting to pick up a bit. Thank God.
Danielle: You know, how can people help shelters right now, at this point in the pandemic? Are you still looking for adoptive and foster parents?
Judy: Oh sure. And if they host, we take care of all the costs. We give them food, we give them the supplies, we give them everything they need. If an animal needs medical attention, we pay for it. We just asked them to give them love and attention and a bit of training that way the animal gets used to living in a house rather than a kennel.
Danielle: Yes, and especially with the kitten season reaching its peak right now. Are you also looking for other things like volunteers or even financial aid?
Judy: Yeah, I mean, you know, we beg for kitty litter. So we have a wish list, it’s very specific, what we need. But certainly kitty litter.
Danielle: Are you worried about what will happen with all these pets? I mean, with these shelters being so full, do you think you know they’ll be able to find homes? Or are you worried about what we might see in the next few months here if the shelters continue to be overcrowded?
Judy: Well, the shelters are going to euthanize them. I mean, I’m a no-kill and I don’t euthanize anyone. I received another call from another shelter. She has a mother and 10 puppies that I will bring home because they cannot take care of them at the center. So the shelters are begging us, we just took you know, we work with the shelters and tried to take as many as possible. Sometimes different environment and different exposure. We can go out, you know some of them they don’t do from home.