Housing issues lead to mass abandonment of pets

On Friday, several central Florida animal shelters announced in unison that their facilities had reached or were very close to capacity.

What do you want to know

  • Several Central Florida animal shelters announced Friday that they are at or near capacity
  • Housing problems and rent increases were among the most common reasons pet owners give up their pets
  • Workers at some shelters say they’ve had to turn people away because they didn’t have room to bring their pets

Shelter workers say “housing problems” and the resulting rent increases are among the most common explanations they’ve heard recently from people who give up their pets.

“It’s frustrating because you want to help these families keep their dogs, but often times that’s just not possible,” said Miriam Aterhortua, founder of Endless Pawsibilities Animal Rescue.

In Orange County, officials say nearly 400 animals are in the Orange County Animal Services shelter and about 200 more are in foster care. In Seminole County, there are approximately 200 animals in the Seminole County Animal Services shelter and more than 100 in foster care. Meanwhile, shelter managers in Osceola and Volusia counties report that they exceeded capacity this summer.

Rosina McVicker, who breeds pets and serves on the advisory board for Orange County Animal Services, said she’s never seen anything like it.

“We’re probably having the worst year ever for overcrowding in the shelter,” she said. “This is the first year I remember at many shelters where multiple shelters have closed or limited admissions – they don’t accept owner surrenders or accept healthy strays.”

McVicker and Aterhortua said they also had to turn away pets because their shelters themselves had reached capacity.

“It’s really devastating, because we would like to save them all,” said Aterhortua. “The lack of foster families, the lack of space, the crazy amount of animals that need space. It’s devastating to have to say no.

Orange County Animal Services reports that approximately 25 animals are brought in stray or abandoned daily. Several animal shelters report waiving or reducing adoption fees in hopes that more people would adopt.

Aterhortua said that aside from donations, what shelters need most is more foster parents for animals helping solve the problem.

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