Rising Pet Abandonments Leave Tacoma Humane Above Maximum Capacity – KIRO 7 News Seattle
PIERCE COUNTY, Washington – Editor’s note: The Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County initially said the shelter receives an average of 212 animals per day. On Friday, shelter officials said that number was incorrect and that the average number of pets seen daily from January to July 2022 was actually 23. However, the shelter currently has more than 200 animals requiring medical attention.
People are being forced to abandon their pets – this is the latest impact of rising rents and increases in the cost of living. And that’s more than shelters can handle. The Humane Society says there’s no more room, especially in Pierce County.
The Tacoma-Pierce County Humane Society says 23 pets come through their doors every day so far this year — from stray cats and dogs lost from animal control to people who have to give up their pets.
Now they’re asking for help and urging people who are considering adopting a pet to do so now.
That’s exactly what Torie Brannen did after hearing about the shelter situation.
“I just adopted Crackers. He’s a little kitten,” Brannen said. “I had wanted to adopt a cat for a long time and I had tears in my eyes just thinking about it. Their shelters were really full and it seemed like a sign.
The shelter is currently working on a campaign to gut the shelter by offering deep discounts on traditional pet adoption fees that can cost hundreds of dollars. Until the end of August, adopting an adult cat costs $25 and an adult dog $50.
Lindsey Heaney says the effort is attracting many families, which is already starting to help. But their shelter is always packed.
“Usually we can have 300 animals and we care for over 700. Luckily we have plenty of foster homes to help us out,” Heaney said.
Tacoma Humane’s Pet Support Team works with families who need to give up their pets.
“It’s still a heartbreaking scenario,” said Pet Support Team member Marley Weiss.
The shelter says one of the main reasons for the increase in the number of pets they see is rising rents that are forcing people to move. These costs are in addition to things like pet fees and breed restrictions.
“Being able to find a pet-friendly place at an affordable price,” Heaney said.
“People have to work two jobs because things get so ridiculously expensive that you just don’t have time,” Weiss said of some of the cases she’s seen.
Last year, Tacoma had the highest percentage rent increase in Western Washington – almost 19%. Since July 2022Apartment List showed year-on-year rent growth was 9% – lower but still significant.
Then there are the veterinary bills that catch people off guard, which has also contributed to the influx of people abandoning their pets.
“Having puppies and kittens is expensive. It’s like having a baby,” Weiss said. “People don’t know about pet insurance and it’s hard to deal with expenses you don’t think of right away, like a broken leg or kennel cough or elderly dogs.”
New kitten parent Brannen agrees the rising cost of living has been a challenge. Her non-refundable pet deposit was $400.
“So unfortunately expensive,” Brannen said. “It will be worth it. Cats live to be 20 years old, so she’s going to be a friend for a long time.
If you need help paying for pet food or even some medical expenses, Tacoma Humane might be able to help you in a way that allows you to keep your pet. People can support Tacoma-Pierce County Humane Society by visiting https://www.thehumanesociety.org/.
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