A Community Crisis: Orange County Animal Services Faces Spike in Pet Surrenders

Community & Services

Orange County Animal Services (OCAS) is dealing with a high number of animal surrenders, primarily related to rising housing costs and other economic factors. In May alone, the shelter received a whopping 361 pets from owners no longer able or interested in caring for them. In response, the shelter is reducing its adoption fees.

“Rising housing costs have left individuals priced out of many options, and they can only afford rentals where no animals are allowed,” explained Diane Summers, manager for Animal Services. “Inflation causes a downward trend in adoptions because the dollar simply isn’t stretching as far. This affects our numbers and is especially impacting our larger dog breed populations because of renting restrictions for large pets.”

In response the overwhelming number of animals in the shelter’s care, Animal Services is urgently requesting the community’s support in a number of ways. For example, residents who have found stray pets are being encouraged to take steps to reunite them with the owner prior to bringing them to the shelter.

“In the vast majority of circumstances, stray animals are less than two miles from their home,” said Summers. “Not every owner knows about or thinks to come to the shelter when their baby is missing. If the finder can take steps to reunite the pet with the owner by checking for a microchip identification, posting the found pet on social media sites and sharing flyers in their area, it can help bring a family back together.” Additional steps on helping lost pets can be found on Petfinder.

Animal Services is also encouraging owners on the brink of having to surrender their pet to explore all options before resorting to the shelter. Their message: Reach out to friends and family for help … and contact local rescue groups to try and work through issues before giving up.

In order to help animals currently housed at the shelter, Animal Services is also calling for adoption and foster support. “If anyone has been looking for a sign to adopt, this is it,” asserted Summers. “We have so many wonderful pets here deserving of a fresh start; we just need people to visit with an open mind and heart.”

Summers stressed that the shelter should be a last resort. “You can volunteer, foster, spread the word. Explore all other options first and give yourself time to explore those options.”

Adoption fees for both dogs and cats are currently reduced to $25. Those interested in adopting can find out more by going to the Orange County Animal Services website. Additionally, the shelter is actively recruiting new members to its foster care program.

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