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Pandemic adoption returns, evictions causing critical capacity at animal shelters

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Posted at 5:40 PM, Sep 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-06 20:39:52-04

CINCINNATI — Animal shelters across the country are hitting critical capacity. Some shelters are seeing an influx as people return to work after staying home during the pandemic; others believe evictions are to blame.

In Northside, at the Cincinnati Animal CARE Humane Society, kennels are full and staff held an adoption event Monday to encourage that to change.

In the meantime, the shelter said, local foster homes are crucial.

"I happened to be here," said Barri Ballance, a foster parent who cared for an abandoned puppy named Jedediah. "The night before they had dropped off this little puppy who had just been abandoned here and he was so cute."

Jedediah was adopted at Monday's event, but Ballance's fostering helped the shelter with the rising numbers of animals being dropped off.

"And it's been pretty consistent since May," said Meaghan Colville, director of the Cincinnati Animal CARE Humane Society. "We've had a few days where we've gotten out of the red, but mostly we've been, we've been over capacity since May."

The trend is not unique to Northside, but unlike the national trend indicating people who adopted pets during the pandemic are now finding themselves unable to care for them, Colville said she believes housing is the root of their problem.

"I think housing is either the biggest issue; that's usually the number one reason why animals are coming into us," she said. "And so ... housing is already an issue. We're definitely concerned that if more people are going to be evicted over the next couple months that we're going to see that intake come up even higher."

The Northside shelter has only had a 4% return rate in the past year, but now more than 50 animals are dropped off there each week.

During the summer months, the shelter was at critical capacity, with kennels completely full and a short supply of foster homes on hand. Currently, there are more than 300 animals in their shelter alone that need homes.

"We actually provide a lot of resources here, so if somebody comes to us and says, 'Hey, I just can't afford my pet,' we will do everything we can to help them keep that pet and see what we can do with how we can rely on our partners," said Colville. "Maybe there's things we can do here at the shelter to help people get, you know, from point A to point B."

The shelter team is monitoring local evictions closely and Colville encouraged anyone with a pet who feels they may be in danger of losing their home to call.

Anyone interesting in fostering or adopting an animal from the Cincinnati Animal CARE Humane Society can visit their online adoption list or check their Facebook page for their next adoption event.