They call them “pandemic puppies,” pets adopted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic that are now being returned to animal shelters in Illinois.
It is estimated that 23 million people across the country adopted pets in 2020.
Jane Kahman, director of the Humane Society of Central Illinois, said county-run shelters across the region were seeing an increase in the number of pets returned.
“We have a lot of pets from all over central Illinois, all different animal controls, and they’re just stuffed up to the gills, ”Kahman said.
The central Illinois branch has welcomed nearly 500 animals this year, she said. Some owners explained that they cannot take care of the animal because they are returning to the office, Kahman noted.
“I have this puppy. I’m back to work and I don’t have time to train, ”Kahman said. “Then they will ask to give up the pet. “
Erin Buckmaster, director of the Knox County Humane Society, reports that they are also full, but take a proactive approach to adoptions on their Facebook page.
In other areas, there does not appear to be an increase in the number of abandoned animals.
“Last year, when covid had more impact, the number of animals entering shelters dropped dramatically. This year we’re higher than last year, but we still haven’t returned to the intake numbers we saw in the years leading up to covid, ”said Becky Spencer, director of animal welfare services of Peoria County.
At DuPage County Animal Services, operations manager Laura Flamion said the intake is stable for dogs and cats, but they have seen a significant increase in the number of unwanted pet rabbits.
“Understand the time and financial resources required when bringing home a pet, ”Flamion said in an email. “Unfortunately, many of the rabbits we host have not received proper food, housing and grooming.”
Buckmaster has a reminder for those who adopted pets in the past year.
“They were there for you during the pandemic. Now it’s time for you to be there for them, ”Buckmaster said.