animal shelters receive more pets than adoptions
Credits: PBS News Hour

Rescue shelters in America struggle as more pets come in and adoptions dramatically decrease. Some owners are now even returning their pandemic pets due to inflation.

Humane Rescue Alliance CEO Lisa LaFontaine says, “Our intake of animals is up 4%, but our adoptions [of animals] are down 10%.”

Is the pet boom officially over? 

During the pandemic, at least 23 million American households adopted pets — almost emptying local shelters — according to ASPCA.

Now, understaffing and a surge of returnees are among the biggest concerns.

What’s even more challenging, owners face financial stress in providing for their pet's needs while making ends meet.

According to Matt Schultz of Lending Tree:

“There's no question that pet ownership is getting more and more expensive, and some folks on the lower end of the income spectrum are just going to get priced out.”

That being said, nearly 1 in 4 owners are in debt for pet care, while 26% struggle with the cost of ownership.  

animal shelters struggle more pets returned
Credits: PBS News Hour

“It’s really sad, people crying, it’s a part of their family,” says Katy Hansen of New York’s Animal Care Centers (ACC).

Despite pet owners’ efforts to keep their furry companions at home, “…if you’re choosing between feeding your family and feeding your pet, your choices are limited.”

In a positive light, some rescue shelters are taking measures to help owners keep their pets.

Lisa LaFontaine of the Humane Rescue Alliance thought of a creative strategy:

“If your animal has a minor medical condition and you can't get a vet appointment or can't afford it, you can bring the animal to us. And our doctors will treat your pet and you can pick them back up.” 

As a result, the Humane Rescue Alliance helped keep 642 pets with their original owners.

Meanwhile, some shelters think of initiatives to involve private entities and gather pet lovers in one place.

The Lucky Dog Animal Rescue may have no physical shelter, but they partner with organizations like PetSmart in hosting adoption events.

This animal shelter aims to keep pets out of kill shelters and euthanasia

According to Shelter Animals Count, the number of euthanized animals increased in 2021 — reaching 355,000 — and more in the future.

Despite the setbacks, animal shelters continue to help find furry companions in their forever homes.


Compassion for pets is fuel to Lenin's lifelong mission. As a fur mom to a Havanese dog and 6 stray cats, Lenin sees the joy in rescuing and giving pets a chance at a forever home. Even in her career as a freelancer, Lenin focused on writing everything about pets — from breed profiles to nutrition down to some of their interesting facts.