Sarasota and Manatee County shelters see increase in pet surrenders

Pet shelters in Sarasota and Manatee counties have seen an increase in pet surrenders due to financial woes and pet behavioral issues.

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Alissa Jackson, marketing coordinator for the Humane Society of Sarasota County, said the housing crisis has played a big role in pet surrenders.

"We've been trying to be more of a community resource because the need is there," Jackson said.

Pet surrenders were up 8% in 2022 compared to the previous year, with 522 pets surrendered, according to data from the Humane Society of Sarasota County.

Jackson said the main reason animals are surrendered is because of behavior, but in the past year, the economic woes associated with housing costs have also led people to surrender their pets.

Oftentimes, people aren't able to afford pet deposits, and Jackson said that sometimes people have to surrender pets that aren't allowed.

Sarasota County Animal Services Lt. Paul Cernansky said that most of the pet surrenders to the county shelter have been through "COVID pets," animals that have been given up due to financial strains from COVID.

Cernansky said the county shelter had actually seen a decrease in pet surrenders. From June of 2022 to December of 2022, the county shelter had 72 animals surrendered, and from June 2021 to December 2021, the county shelter had 101 pets surrendered.

Jackson said the humane society numbers may differ from the county shelter because they work closely with the Sheriff's Office and act as a first line of defense to keep animals out of the county shelter, making the humane society's numbers larger.

Sarah Brown, division chief for Manatee County Animal Welfare, cited an 11% intake increase from 2021 due to many economic reasons, including eviction, medical issues with the pet, moving due to inflation, and financial hardship.

Brown said the shelter encourages those that are struggling to visit the shelter and explore ways they could offer support during times of hardship, including their pet food pantry and free vaccinations for pets.

"It is our goal to expand this type of assistance and our network of community partners, so we can divert pets from entering the shelter," Brown said.

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Sarasota and Manatee County shelters see an increase in pet surrenders