SpokAnimal shelter full as owners surrender dogs due to expenses, housing

SPOKANE, Wash. – The SpokAnimal shelter is completely full and overflowing because owners no longer have the money to take care of their pets or had housing issues, according to the executive director.

The shelter has 31 dog kennels. Executive Director Dori Peck says all are filled with large dogs and there are a few others in kennels in waiting areas since there is nowhere else they can go.

This time last year, SpokAnimal received three to five calls a week from people needing to surrender their pets. Now, it’s getting between 10 and 15 calls per week for owner surrenders. Owners giving up their pets tell the shelter they can’t afford pet rent, or deposits because of the rise in costs. They also say their new housing situation would not allow big dogs.

“We obviously are seeing a lot of folks that are losing their housing. They’re moving back in with their family, friends,” Peck said. “A lot of large dogs can’t go with them. So, we’re seeing a lot of large dog intakes. We have a large list of people waiting to surrender their large dogs.”

Peck says more people are stopping by the shelter’s pet food bank as well as its veterinary clinic. She added that the pet food bank has been used more in the last three months than she’s seen it be used in the last eight years.

“The free vet care, people are begging for because they just can’t afford the extras. They just don’t have the expendable income,” she said.

Peck is worried for a recession if it comes to that. She worked in animal welfare in 2008/2009, knowing that it becomes difficult. More people drop off dogs and there would be fewer adoptions. Peck says they’re trying to plan in advance just in case it does happen.

“I just want to make sure that we’re as ready as we can possibly be,” she said.

In trying to be proactive, she said they’re ramping up spaying and neutering of animals. The shelter is also trying to have more staff out in the community at pet stores and just to let people know they are there and there are animals that need to be adopted.

“We need the visibility. We need the animals to be seen,” she said. “Really trying to be as proactive as we can with adoptions.”

If pet owners do need help, they can come by the pet food bank to get free food to get by. If an owner really needs to surrender a pet because of any circumstance, Peck is urging them to plan as best as they can.

“If you know you’re going to be moving or losing the current housing you have, let us know ahead of time. Let us know two weeks, a month, so that we can get you on that list so we can help you a lot faster,” she said.

Though the shelter is full, Peck said they will take in animals in an emergency, Peck added. There is also a program called Guardian Angel where the shelter can help house animals for two weeks for free if people are in need.

The shelter is able to get dogs adopted, however, bigger dogs take more time to get picked up.

To help the shelter, people can adopt, donate food, money or volunteer to foster animals. For more information, visit the SpokAnimal website here.