Animal shelters across Houston are facing challenges with declining adoptions and increasing animal intake, which is leading to overcrowding, according to one shelter.
Staff shortages due to COVID-19-related policies mean fewer workers to carry out shelter operations, programs and provide animal care.
In response, Best Friends in Houston is urging Houstonians to adopt from their local animal shelter now, and is also organizing a citywide Foster Rally series to provide a way for people to help by temporarily opening their homes, and the group will travel to a new shelter each month.
“A lot of lifesaving progress was made at the beginning of the pandemic — more people were adopting and fostering — but now, we are starting to see a backslide with people traveling and returning to work,” said Carrie Lalonde, a lifesaving manager at Best Friends in Houston. “Countless animals’ lives are at stake. They have been there with us through the pandemic as sources of comfort and joy. Now we need to be there for them. We need the community to take action by adopting from their local shelter or temporarily opening their home to foster a pet.”
Fort Bend Animal Services said they were excited to serve as the Foster Rally kickoff shelter.
“Like most animal welfare organizations across the country, we have seen an increase in our intake over the last few months as people have returned to work, and now with school starting, we anticipate even more pets coming into our shelter,” said Rene Vasquez, director of Fort Bend County Animal Services. “In the most difficult times, we have always been able to count on the incredibly generous response from our community.”
Foster matches are made based on your lifestyle and availability to help.
Best Friends provides free food, supplies, and medical care for the pet while they are in foster homes. For those not able to attend a Foster Rally event in person, virtual meet and greets will be arranged.
A foster pet and supplies can even be delivered to your home.
Nationwide stories have been shared of “pandemic pets” being returned at alarming rates, but recent data from 24PetWatch on nearly 1,200 shelters shows that there is not a trend of these particular pets being surrendered, and adoptions are the greater concern, according to Best Friends Animal Society.
Adoptions are down more than 3% overall compared to 2020, and down 10% for dogs compared to 2020. For June, intake was up 5.9% compared to 2020, but still 21.9% lower than 2019. Slightly more animals are entering shelters, and fewer are leaving, the Houston group said.
It’s also the height of kitten season, so combined with challenges at shelters, getting pets adopted into loving homes is more important than ever, as the experts at Best Friends Animal Society said.
According to a recent survey conducted by Best Friends Animal Society, 59% of people who are interested in adopting are delaying the process, largely due to lifestyle-changes such as returning to the office, taking vacations and starting a new job. More than half of respondents are also concerned about the availability of dog services such as dog walkers, veterinary care, etc.
In addition, more than half of respondents also shared that adoption is the preferred method for acquiring a pet, rather than purchasing from a breeder or pet store, according to Best Friends Animal Society.
“As things return to normal, it is critical that our community stay involved and the public understands the overwhelming need to adopt and foster, as well as spread the word about the need,” Lalonde said. “Our pets were here for us when we needed them most over the past year. Now we need to be there for all the pets in need.”
Houstonians wanting to help can visit their local shelter to adopt a cat or dog from the Best Friends Houston program.
Another option is to temporarily foster a pet in need, by completing a short registration form for the Houston Foster Program. Because animals tend to thrive better in homes rather than shelters or a facility, Best Friends Animal Society in Houston is 100% foster based, so the more fosters that join the program, the more pets can be saved.
About Best Friends Animal Society
Best Friends Animal Society is a leading animal welfare organization working to end the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025, the group said. Founded in 1984, Best Friends is a pioneer in the no-kill movement and has helped reduce the number of animals killed in shelters from an estimated 17 million per year to around 347,000. Best Friends runs lifesaving programs all across the country, as well as the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary. Working collaboratively with a network of more than 3,300 animal welfare and shelter partners, and community members nationwide, Best Friends is working to Save Them All®. For more information, visit bestfriends.org.