Animal Shelters Expect Many to be Given Up in Coming Year

Dog from ARF Walnut Creek
Photo credit Carrie Hodousek/ KCBS Radio

Animal shelters are bracing for a surge of pets as more people face economic hardships from the coronavirus.

Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) in Walnut Creek has been working to address the problem.

Although many people are fostering and adopting shelter animals at this time, ARF Executive Director Elena Bitker told KCBS Radio they fear many more people who have lost a job or home will soon have to surrender their pets.

“We’re working to ensure that animals that are in need of food have access to it, and pet owners aren’t redirecting their own food for their animals,” Bitker said. 

The demand for adoptions is just as great. Since the outbreak, they’ve been able to re-home over 70 dogs and nearly 40 cats.

“We had nine puppies hit our website and we got over a thousand inquiries,” she said. 

Fostering is on the rise, too, among their 600 volunteers who are working from home. But what happens when the pandemic is over? Where will those animals end up?

“I think most of the shelters are trying to determine how to keep animals in homes and keep them out of shelters,” Bitker added.

The goal is keep most of those in foster homes permanently.

Since ARF is closed to the public, many of their animals are in foster homes with staff and volunteers who are working from home. Bitker is hoping those will turn into permanent homes for them to prevent overcrowding at the shelter.