The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

National animal shelter crisis felt by local shelters

Cat for adoption at Anita’s Stevens Swan Humane Society. /Photo courtesy of Breannan O’Hara

Animal shelters across the country are more overcrowded than they have been in years, with the U.S. shelter population growing by nearly a quarter million animals in 2023, according to Shelter Animal Counts, a national database for shelter statistics. Local shelters in Utica are being overwhelmed with animals as a result of this national problem, pushing them to capacity.


Many indicators point to the pandemic being the cause of this problem, due to spontaneous decisions while being in lock down and the significant rise in inflation in the years following contributing to the increased number of abandoned and surrendered pets. 


According to local shelters, pet abandonment has always been an issue, making it hard to pinpoint a causing factor in the recent increase. 

“It is hard to notice a spike when we are constantly full,” said David Fitzgerald, director of philanthropy at Anita’s Stevens Swan Humane Society. “I think the pandemic caused a lot of people to adopt pets without much thought and now they cannot afford to take care of them; this is a human problem, not an animal problem.” 


The animal shelter association has had first hand experience with the excessive number of animals residing at shelters. This causes stress on the animals and workers. In order to provide care for every resident, new strategies must be implemented due to the scarcity of resources and space.  


“Concerning local animal shelters, we mostly work with Stevens Swan Humane Society and they are almost always at or close to maximum capacity,”said Julieann Lindsey, secretary of the Animal Shelter Association at Utica University. “We also volunteered at the Rome Humane Society a few semesters ago and they were so filled that they had a separate house that had a few dogs and several cats that they could not keep in their main facility due to being a max capacity.”

Since the local shelters are operating at or over capacity, support from the local community is important and appreciated. Fitzgerald said although animals are regularly being adopted out, “a lot are brought in still, always leaving no room in the end.”

There are a number of small steps that the community can take that can lessen the impacts of this crisis.  

“The community can help out by fostering animals into their homes, as they wait to be adopted,” said Robin Kaminski, manager of the Rome Humane Society. “Volunteers are always needed to provide more one on one human interaction for the animals while they are at our shelter.”

The Animal Shelter Association is planning several events this semester, such as treat-making and volunteering, to support the local shelters through activities.


Sentence below for online


Visit the link for a more detailed look into the national animal shelter statistics, SAC Releases 2023 Annual Intake and Outcome Data Analysis – Shelter Animals Count 

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