Pets

Chicago-Area Shelters ‘Inundated' with Number of Pets

The need is outpacing pre-pandemic levels

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Chicago-area shelters are reporting an unprecedented number of pets in need of new homes.

South Suburban Humane Society in Chicago Heights has seen a 25% increase in intake numbers, especially with larger breeds, according to the Director of Development Susanna Decker.

“[It’s] larger than ever before in our history,” said Decker. “We do have a larger number of large dogs that are available for foster and adoption.”

Decker said the recent increase is one of the largest in the shelter’s history. She pointed her finger at the economy.

“We have seen a big increase the first week of every month over the last three months, which we think is tied to potential evictions,” said Decker.

Meanwhile, PAWS Chicago in Lincoln Park is pushing for more "foster to adopt" families who may be on the fence about making a commitment.

Susanna Homan, CEO of PAWS Chicago, said they’re looking for families who can house larger pets who need specialized care.

“Everybody feels a little safer going into it when it’s just a trial run. We provide more support through the trial run,” said Decker. “We have a need for people with yards, people who are able to take bigger dogs.”

One Tail At A Time, a private rescue shelter in Chicago, is also feeling the surge.

The shelter’s director, Anna Johnson, said families who’ve gone back to the office may feel they can no longer care for a pet due to a busy work schedule that keeps them away from the home.

“That is still better than a cage in a crowded shelter for one of these animals,” said Johnson.

Most shelters cover the foster costs for food, leashes, crates and medical care. Fostering for a few months could also save a pet’s life.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t get three, five, seven, nine emails from partner shelters that are on the verge of having to euthanize for space,” said Decker.

Here's more information about fostering or adopting a pet:

Click here for South Suburban Humane Society.

Click here for One Tail at A Time.

Click here for PAWS Chicago.

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