Ann Arbor Humane Society: Decrease in demand leads to long adoption wait for dogs

A person pets a dog waiting to be adopted. (Humane Society of Huron Valley)

ANN ARBOR – Across the state of Michigan, animal rescues and shelters are “battling a capacity crisis of historic levels,” according to the Humane Society of Huron Valley.

Shelter officials said more kittens have come through their doors this year than in the past 15 years, and wait times for adoptable dogs has doubled.

HSHV’s CEO Tanya Hilgendorf said factors like people going back to work and economic conditions have likely slowed down dog adoptions.

Another reason for a surge in dogs at shelters? A decrease in spay and neuter procedures, according to a recent panel by Michigan Pet Alliance.

“During the past 2 years, nearly 3 million surgeries were missed…3 million animals that never got neutered,” Professor of Shelter Education at the University of Florida, Julie Levy, said in the panel discussion. “We can have generations of animals that have been born simply because COVID shut down, and the clinics couldn’t recover.

“Shelters are closing to routine intake and are admitting only emergency intake. Shelters are needing to turn non-emergent cases away because they are so full. And they are fuller than they have been in years. It is a complex, scary thing… it involves a shortage of veterinarians, [and] a vast decrease in the demand for pets from shelters that we’ve been starting to see for almost a year now.”

When looking for your next pet, Hilgendorf urged members of the public to “Adopt, not shop.”

“No matter what kind of glitter they put on the business, the fact is that animals sold in pet stores and online come from puppy mills,” she said in a statement. “Good, animal-loving people simply do not know that when they acquire pets like this, they are perpetuating cruelty. And, are being sold for thousands of dollars, often using predatory lending practices, I might add. But the public is often fooled by beautiful websites and misinformation that hide poor conditions and animal mistreatment.

“We understand some folks simply have favorite breeds, but we want to encourage families to check with local shelters and rescues first. If they can’t find the breed their heart is set on, then go to a local family breeder, where the conditions, care and the parents can be seen firsthand.”

Hilgendorf added that research has shown that shelter dogs are no different behaviorally from other dogs.

“Please remember: Shelter animals are simply animals without homes,” she said in a release.

Adoptions can be made seven days a week at HSHV and appointments are not required.

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About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.