Local animal shelters see surge as familiar faces return, hoarding cases increase

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Some pet shelters are faced with the task of pets being returned as people head back into the office

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – At the start of the pandemic, you might have gotten a pet, something to keep you company while you were working from home. Now, some pet shelters are faced with the task of taking in returned pets as people head back into the office.

Shelters are seeing some familiar faces come back in.

“We’re seeing a lot of the animals that we have adopted out over the pandemic that have been adoption returns, which we expected. We know there will be a turnover,” said Jane MacMurphy, Animal Charity adoption coordinator.

Animal Charities in Boardman is getting a mixture of hoarding cases and returns. They say they were expecting returns when pets started getting adopted at the start of the pandemic.

“Even though you’re home because you’re working from home, that doesn’t mean you have the time to dedicate the attention the animal needs, especially a rescue animal,” MacMurphy said.

The Boardman charity has also seen an increase of animal hoarding cases this week.

Most Recently, a home in Lowellville was left with seven cats and three turtles inside after the people living there moved out.

They say two of the cats are in critical condition, while the turtles are with an expert to help take care of them.

If they find the owner, they will push forward with charges.

“Now, it’s a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. We have to build a case. Sometimes, a lot of investigation is happening, so for the cases we did specifically this week, they’re still in the investigation process,” MacMurphy said.

This time of the year exposes a lot of animal hoarding cases due to the warmer weather, causing these areas to smell.

At Angels of Animals in Canfield, different animals bring different challenges for them.

“Cats coming in with babies. People have been home, they have been noticing them more outside, so they’ve been feeding them more outside and sheltering them more outside, but they’re not fixing them,” said Sherry Bankey, cat manager at Angels for Animals.

She says this is the typical start for kitten season.

Many of them are born and then dropped off at the shelter, so combining the two issues means they are forecasting a lot of cats and kittens coming in.

“We have upwards of five to six hundred going into foster before this is done with, every month until kitten season is over in November,” Bankey said.

With dog returns, the most common problem for the animal is behavioral issues, mainly separation anxiety.

“And this is stuff that they don’t realize in the day-to-day of working from home until they start going back to the office, and then the dog is destroying things while they are gone,” said Ryan Van Dyke, Angels for Animals K9 manager.

They’ve seen a lot of other issues regarding why dogs are being returned to the shelter.

“But overall, people don’t realize the significance,” MacMurphy said. “They thought it was more convenient for them to get an animal because they always wanted one at the time, when really, we knew it was a lifelong commitment.”

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