© 2024 All Rights reserved WUSF
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
You Count on Us, We Count on You: Donate to WUSF to support free, accessible journalism for yourself and the community.

Animal shelters around Florida are reporting higher numbers of pet surrenders

A dog with golden hair is trying to poke its paw through the bars of a kennel door.
Danyelle Van Horn
Tampa Bay Humane Society
Shelters like the Tampa Bay Humane Society are seeing an increased number of pet surrenders, mainly due to the economy.

Shelter officials encourage struggling pet owners to look into affordable animal medical care and free pet food pantries to help with expenses.

The past few months have seen an increase in pet surrenders at Tampa Bay area animal shelters as some owners can no longer afford to care for them.

Places such as The Humane Society of Tampa Bay have served as hotspots for these surrenders.

Operations manager Danyelle Van Horn says if the number of animals continues to grow, it could become a problem.

"The more animals we have, the more our expenses go up, and it's just a chain reaction. When we are full, we can't help other animals that may need our help," Van Horn said.

A black dog looks up through the bars of a kennel door
Danyelle Van Horn
Tampa Bay Humane Society

She encourages struggling owners to look into shelters' affordable animal medical care and free pet food pantries, saying agencies like hers want to do everything they can to keep pets with their owners.

“It’s just really heartbreaking, the stories we hear from the people that come in, it just really breaks our hearts.”

Van Horn adds that the shelters are at capacity most of the time as it is.

"If it got to the point where we're seeing an even larger influx of animals coming in, we would just have to figure out what we are going to do," she said.

This problem stretches beyond Tampa as inflation and higher costs of living are felt across the country. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports shelters in Sarasota and Manatee counties also are seeing an increase in pet surrenders.

Manatee County Animal Servicesofficials say their numbers are up by 11% since 2021, due in part to evictions and expensive pet deposits. The Humane Society of Sarasota County reports surrenders were up 8% in 2022, with 522 pets surrendered.

Three people in a room surrounded by big bags of dog food wrapped in plastic
Danyelle Van Horn
Humane Society of Tampa Bay
Organizations like the Human Society of Tampa Bay provide free pet food to struggling pet owners so they can keep their furry friends.

Thomas Ouellette is is the WUSF Rush Family / USF Zimmerman Radio News intern for spring of 2023.