Aiken shelters flooded with surrendered pets as pandemic eases

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 7:47 AM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - During the pandemic, record numbers of people brought new pets into their homes and in many cases were adopted from shelters and rescues.

But with COVID restrictions being lifted and people going back to work, shelters are now seeing the opposite: a record number of people looking to surrender animals.

Some of our local shelters are seeing the same thing, and this increase can make it difficult for shelters and the animals in them.

Claire Roberson works at the SPCA Albrecht Center in Aiken, where the cages are filled above capacity.

“When we reach this level, it’s very hard on our staff, it’s hard on the animals, and it means less animals we can take in and help,” she said.

The center has seen surrenders and return adoptions before, but not like this. About half of the animals in their shelter right now have been given up by their owners.

“When you see the people and how much they love their animals, and how they just can’t see any other way but surrendering and how awful that is for them, it is heartbreaking,” Roberson said.

It’s heartbreaking for the owners and the pets they leave behind.

Roberson thinks most of these surrenders are happening because of the pandemic ending.

“We think that that has to do with people going back to work, having a lot of lifestyle changes with losing their jobs, or even their homes, having to move... A lot of different reasons,” she explained.

Adoptions are down at the Albrecht center right now, and the Aiken County Animal Shelter says it’s overcapacity, as well.

And with so many animals coming in, our shelters desperately want to give these pets new homes.

Roberson says it’s very stressful for pets to separate from their owner.

Across the river, Richmond and Columbia County shelters continue to see reports of owner surrendered pets

In from May to mid July 2020, Augusta Animal Services report they saw 114 owner surrendered cats and four returned cats. With dogs, they saw 316 owner surrendered and 10 returned.

Compared to the same time frame in 2021, Augusta Animal Services saw 116 owner surrendered cats and two returned. With dogs, so far the animal service has seen `59 owner surrendered and 12 returned.

Although the increase is not severe in the Augusta area, several pets across the CSRA are in need of a forever home.

If you can give one of those animals a permanent home, they’d love for you to come in. You can pay a visit during normal business hours. Make sure to check if an appointment is needed.

And at the FOTAS shelter on Wire Road, staff says their hours are extended so you have more time to visit. They say the adoption fees for dogs and puppies is just $35 right now, and $10 for cats and kittens.

Find your forever pet

Here are links to the pet finder sites for our local animal shelters:

Augusta Animal Services

CSRA Humane Society


Friends of the Animal Shelter - Aiken

SCPA Albrecht Center

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